24 March 2016

Americans Aiming For World Domination

Saturday’s 2016 $10m Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates promises to be a cracker with a formidable American challenge appearing to hold the strongest hand.

Horses trained in the USA have won the world’s most valuable horse race on nine occasions, while Godolphin-owned horses have won the race six times, so Godolphin’s Frosted (USA), trained by Kiaran McLaughlin in America, has a lot in his favour.

McLaughlin, a former multiple UAE Champion Trainer, has a Dubai World Cup victory to his name already, having won the race in 2007 with Invasor for HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Frosted has made one start in the UAE, breaking the 1900m dirt track record when landing the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 in early February.

That was supposed to be his first of two prep races but, so impressive was he, McLaughlin decided to miss Super Saturday and Al Maktoum Challenge Round 3.

“The original idea was to run twice before Saturday,” said McLaughlin. “We thought he would need his first run to put him spot on but he won so well in the middle round of the Maktoum Challenge we decided to keep him fresh and go straight for the Dubai World Cup.

“He has been in great form since so we are really excited about Saturday. The draw (nine) was kind and he must have a big chance.”

Runner-up in the 2015 Dubai World Cup was California Chrome (USA), back for another crack this year with connections adopting a different approach.

Last year he arrived only the week before and was arguably unlucky in the way the race panned out, having chased a searching early gallop set by Japan’s Hokko Tarumae (JPN).

That Japanese rival is back in opposition again but California Chrome looks a different proposition this time. The Art Sherman-trained runner arrived this year in late January and has a Meydan win to his name, a handicap over the same 2000m as Saturday’s race.

An unorthodox preparation, you might think, but actually the same route taken by the 2008 Dubai World Cup winner, Curlin. He won the equivalent handicap that year, at Nad Al Sheba Racecourse, before landing the world’s richest horse race.

“We brought him over earlier this year,” said assistant trainer, Alan Sherman who has been supervising the horse’s preparation.

“We just felt he would have longer to acclimatise and it would be to his benefit. He won his comeback at home and again on his return here. The idea was to have the Dubai World Cup as his third run of 2016 as we really think, after a break, the third run back is the time a horse will peak. Hopefully, that will be the case on Saturday.

“He missed a lot of last year but he returned to training a far bigger, stronger, horse. We could not be more happy with him.”

Art Sherman was present for Wednesday’s draw and said: “I had the penultimate choice so went for stall 11. A wide draw should not matter if you have the right horse and we think we do. He has plenty of tactical speed so stall 11 should not be an inconvenience.”

The aforementioned Frosted will try and emulate Godolphin’s Moon Ballad, winner of Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 before winning the World Cup, whereas Round 3 of the challenge has a stronger history.

All trained by Saeed bin Suroor for Godolphin, Dubai Millennium (2000), Street Cry (2002) and Electrocutionist (2006) all won both races.

The Musabah Al Muhairi-trained Special Fighter (IRE) will attempt to complete that notable double this year having established a new 2000m track record in Super Saturday’s event.

He and Fernando Jara were able to make all on that occasion and similar tactics could well be employed again from his draw in five.

“Ideally I wanted six, the same as Super Saturday,” said Al Muhairi. “Six was not available so I went for five. We have always maintained he was a serious racehorse and he has proved it now. We know Saturday will be the biggest test but he deserves his place in the race and we are really looking forward to it.”

Second in that Super Saturday race was Hong Kong’s Gun Pit (AUS), trained by Caspar Fownes, who had the first choice at Wednesday’s draw. He went for stall three and said: “He ran a massive race on Super Saturday and, hopefully, can do so again. Stall three gives him the chance to race handily which really suits him.”

Of the others, the aforementioned Hokko Tarumae, a definite potential pace angle in the race, will depart from stall eight.

His trainer, Katsuichi Nishiura said: “We’re glad to come back here after a brave run last year. Number eight is a lucky number. From that post we can break to see what the other horses are doing and position ourselves accordingly.”