Dubai roundup: U.S.-based Sibelius holds to win Golden Shaheen

Dubai roundup: U.S.-based Sibelius holds to win Golden Shaheen

Sibelius made his trip from South Florida to the Middle East worth the effort Saturday, winning the Group 1, $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen on the Dubai World Cup (G1) undercard.

Jeremiah O’Dwyer, an Ireland native who trains in the U.S., is conditioner of Sibelius. The 5-year-old Not This Time gelding showed he was up for the trip to Meydan Racecourse after winning Gulfstream Park’s Mr. Prospector Stakes (G3) on New Year’s Eve and Tampa Bay’s Pelican Stakes on Feb. 11.

Those wins came under Junior Alvarado, who has mounts Saturday aboard Art Collector in the New Orleans Classic Stakes (G2) and Denington in the Louisiana Derby (G2). With Alvarado at Fair Grounds, star European rider Ryan Moore assumed the mount on Sibelius.

Moore found running room for Sibelius late along the rail. He dug in to pass fellow U.S. runners Gunite and Hopkins in the final furlong, then held hard-charging Switzerland off at the wire by a nose.

Sibelius went off Saturday at 8-1 odds, returning $19.60 on a $2 win bet. He covered six furlongs in 1:10.69.

“It took us awhile to get going down the stretch,” O’Dwyer said on the international broadcast feed. “Ryan never gave up on him, kept pumping away, pumping away. I’d have settled for a dead heat (with Switzerland) but at the end of the day, we won the race.”

Jun Park and Delia Nash campaign Sibelius, who sports a lifetime record of 19: 7-3-3. He entered the day with $488,889 in earnings but is now a millionaire after his Golden Shaheen score.

“I was very lucky to pick up the ride,” Moore said. “He actually stepped a little slowly, I was a half-length further behind than I wanted to be. We had a charmed run, they just drifted off which meant we didn’t have to change lanes and the horse dug in really deep. He showed a lot of courage and heart to get there. 

“He has form over a little bit further which I think really helped too.”

Switzerland finished second Saturday for trainer Bhupat Sameer ahead of the Steve Asmussen-trained Gunite in third.

Gunite, a Grade 1 winner as a juvenile in 2021, has hit the board twice this season in the Middle East. He was second in the Riyadh Dirt Sprint (G3) on the Saudi Cup (G1) undercard Feb. 25.

“It was another great run and this horse shows up every single time,” Asmussen’s assistant Scott Blasi said. “Our (No. 13 post position) meant we probably had to compromise and (jockey Tyler Gaffalione) had to use him a little harder than we would have wanted to so he could get position getting into the first turn, but a solid run and he keeps progressing.”

Hopkins for trainer Bob Baffert and C Z Rocket for trainer Peter Miller finished fourth and eighth, respectively.

Tyler Gaffalione wires Godolphin Mile with UAE local Isolate

UAE-based trainer Doug Watson stamped his name on the Godolphin Mile (G2) for the third time at Meydan Racecourse Saturday after Isolate did as his name suggested and kept himself ahead of the pack, going wire-to-wire under Tyler Gaffalione.

The 5-year-old Mark Valeski horse broke well and hit the front with defending champion Bathrat Leon in close quarters alongside fellow Japan traveller Win Carnelian. Isolate travelled strongly and after turning for home with the least of urging, he stretched fully to run home 5 1/2 lengths clear, stopping the clock in 1:35.71.

Fellow UAE trained Law Of Peace, Bhupat Seemar’s charge, encountered immense traffic after a poor break yet found his way into second bravely in the hands of Richard Mullen, while Antonio Cintra’s Atletico El Culano took third a further 3/4 lengths back in the hands of Jose da Silva.

Bathrat Leon took fourth a further neck back for Yahagi and Ryusei Sakai. Everfast, second in the 2019 Preakness but now based in the UAE and trained by Watson, was fifth another head back under Oscar Chavez.

Watson said: “I’m just thrilled for Sheikh Rashid (bin Humaid al Nuaimi) and the whole team at home. I’ve been here for almost 30 years, I’ve progressed from being in charge of the ambulance at the first Dubai World Cup to now having winners on the night. It’s quite remarkable.

“It’s unbelievable, he’s big and long and you saw the way he broke, he didn’t shoot out of the gates – you have to ride him along. Once he gets into his stride, he’s pretty amazing.

“Tyler did a great job getting him out and going, getting a nice pace on and he stays a mile, we can definitely say that now. I wasn’t quite sure until he turned in and there wasn’t much going with him.”

Gaffalione said: “I felt it going into the gate. He gave me this unbelievable feeling. He always breaks a step slow, but when I asked him he had so much power and the plan worked perfectly. That was amazing.

“I was supposed to ride here with Sir Winston in 2020 but obviously it didn’t go ahead. I’ve always dreamed of winning here and to have achieved it, it’s so special.”

Lord North wins his third straight Dubai Turf; Shirl’s Speight runs fourth

Lord North created history by becoming the first horse to win three straight renewals of the Dubai Turf (G1), thanks to the gutsiest of displays under Frankie Dettori.

John and Thady Gosden’s 7-year-old arrived at Meydan on the back of a winning prep run in last month’s Winter Derby (G3) at Lingfield Park and he was always prominent under Dettori.

Tracking the early pace behind the Roger Varian-trained El Drama, the leading pack soon swapped places swinging the bend for home, when William Buick took over on Nations Pride.

Buick would have been entitled to think his sweeping move was enough, but Dettori had his measure on Lord North, cosily picking up the lead inside the final furlong for a game success – and stealing first run on the fast-closing Japanese-trained pair of Serifos and Danon Beluga. Lord North finished about nine furlongs in 1:07.39.

That victory means that Dettori has bolstered his record as the race’s most successful jockey with four victories. Those have come with the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Tamayaz (1997), in addition to three on Lord North.

He also extended his lead as the most successful rider at the Dubai World Cup meeting across its near three-decade history, with this marking his 23rd victory since its inception in 1996.

This is Dettori’s final appearance at Meydan before his retirement.

The jockey, who ensured his trademark flying dismount once again graced Dubai, said: “It’s amazing to win once; three times, it’s unreal. Thady has done an amazing job because he’s a horse that gets sick quite easily, that’s why he doesn’t run that often. The boys got him ready for this race and full credit to them, they’ve done great with him.”

Shirl’s Speight, a Grade 1 winner at Keeneland and trained by Canada-based Roger Attfield, closed to finish fourth in the Dubai Turf. Jockey Antonio Fresu said, “I got in traffic and was sent back further than I wanted, he was shuffled big time. He finished very well, had to find his way through horses. He was unlucky not to be closer.”

Equinox dominates the Dubai Sheema Classic

After seven races which had produced some thrilling finishes and compelling storylines, Equinox produced a dominant performance of rare quality to stamp his authority on global middle distance turf racing. He looks quite simply untouchable if trainer Tetsuya Kimura can keep him at this level of form and the Silk Racing syndicate can have their pick of the world’s great races at 1 1/4 miles and 1 1/2 miles.

That Equinox was able to run away from his rivals in the straight was predicted by plenty of people beforehand, though few could have foreseen Christophe Lemaire’s decision to lead into the first turn and dictate from the front.

It might well be that tactics were immaterial, such was the superiority of this dazzling son of Kitasan Black, a new champion for both Lemaire and Silk Racing that has come hard on the heels of their horse of a lifetime, Almond Eye.

But, convinced he was on the best horse in the race, Lemaire took chance out of the equation, never taking his hands off the reins, let alone shaking them at Equinox; his measured yet irresistible stride taking him out of range of the pursuing Zagrey and the running-on Westover. Equinox went the distance of about 1 1/2 miles in 2:25.65, a new course record.

In any normal edition of the Sheema Classic, Juddmonte’s homebred would have been a good winner and trainer Ralph Beckett can plan an ambitious campaign through the summer for Westover.

And Yann Barberot was almost the happiest man in Meydan as his Dubai World Cup Carnival graduate took another big step forward.  

Neither is likely to encounter a horse of Equinox’s stature back in Europe, while wherever Japan’s newest superstar races, he will be the box office attraction in global racing.

Lemaire said: “I knew he was the best horse and so I was happy to make the pace. I’m really happy for all of the connections. It’s been a long time since I won the Sheema, the last time was with Heart’s Cry and he passed away two weeks ago. So I am very grateful for this horse and he has allowed me to pay tribute to Heart’s Cry.

“Race after race, he’s going up the rankings of the horses I have ridden. It was a great, great performance against these kind of horses at the top level. I couldn’t be happier.”

Kimura said: “Much like he did last year, he went straight to the lead so that got me a bit worried at the start but the horse travelled fine and everything went well. We didn’t have a plan really and Christophe is just a very good jockey who knows how to ride these horses very well. He did a fantastic job in the saddle and Equinox is such a fine horse that knows how to get the job done.

“It was a tough field with some very strong horses but he’s a champion and he was just the best. He got the job done and made it all look so simple. I am very happy with this performance.”

Danyah wins for the home team in Al Quoz Sprint

Danyah put a host of specialist sprinters to the sword when flying up the middle under Dane O’Neill to deliver a popular success for Shadwell and trainer Musabbeh Al Mheiri in the Al Quoz Sprint (G1) at about six furlongs on turf, finishing the race in 1:08.61.

Having been campaigned over about seven furlongs and a mile since arriving in the UAE, he outran the rest on his first start over this shorter trip since October 2019.

With the field staying up the middle of the track any perceived bias for those drawn high was negated and there were a host of chances spread across the track inside the final furlong.

Al Suhail and William Buick appeared to be travelling all over the winner but had to settle for third, while The Astrologist also made a final, decisive challenge, finishing just a head behind the winner for Australian-based Leon and Troy Corstens.

A truly international finish was rounded out by the Hong Kong pair of Sight Success and Duke Wai, with a length covering the first five.

Bred to be a star as the son of an Albany Stakes winner in Cuis Ghaire, it was Danyah who proved toughest of all and was led in by the Shadwell principal, Sheikha Hissa bint Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

Al Mheiri was able to celebrate a third World Cup night success following the victories of Tamarkuz in the 2015 Godolphin Mile and Muarrab in the Dubai Golden Shaheen a year later.

Broome breaks track record in Dubai Gold Cup win

Broome took the step up to two miles in his stride when striking late to take the Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup (3200m) in a pulsating finish.

It looked as though Subjectivist would roar back to the form of his emphatic 2021 victory in this race when rounding the bend for home with a narrow lead, but he was soon headed by the strong-travelling Siskany for Charlie Appleby and the Godolphin team.

However, Ryan Moore once again showed why he is one of the best pilots in the world by striking late on the Aidan O’Brien-trained Broome, whose well-timed challenge was enough to overthrow Siskany and seal a narrow neck success, breaking the course record set by Subjectivist two years ago. Broome finished the two miles in 3:16.83.

It was a first win in the race for both trainer and jockey, quite remarkable given their record in staying races the world over.

That victory provided some welcome compensation for Broome’s part-owner Masaaki Matsushima, who was yesterday forced to scratch leading Japanese hope Do Deuce from the Dubai Turf (G1).

MV Magnier, representing owners Coolmore, said: “Aidan was very confident he would handle the trip. He’s danced every dance and travelled around the world. We are lucky to have him.”

“Very happy for all involved, Mr Matsushima has supported us well over the last few years so it is great to share a win with him.”

Hayyan holds off Barakka in the Kahayla Classic

A thrilling head-bobbing finish greeted spectators to the 2023 Dubai World Cup meeting at Meydan with local hopes Hayyan and Barakka involved in a long stretch duel in the Dubai Kahayla Classic (G1) – the card’s traditional curtain-raiser at about 1 1/4 miles for purebred Arabian horses – before the Majed Al Jahoori trainee Hayyan prevailed by a short head.

Ridden by Panamanian jockey Oscar Chavez, who also partnered him when winning the Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 (G1) last month, he was positioned in a handy fourth on the rail just behind a fast pace.

Turning for home, Barakka travelled best with Hayyan under persuasion looking for daylight but once that came he quickly went past the Ahmad bin Harmash representative.

Barakka showed he is all heart, fighting back and even reclaiming the lead for a brief moment until Hayyan reeled him back in the final 10 metres to win by a short head, stopping the timer in 2:14.15.

A messy beginning for 2021 winner Deryan ended his hopes of reclaiming his Dubai Kahayla Classic crown while last year’s victor First Classs was never comfortable in the early stages of the race but made good ground towards the finish, ultimately grabbing third.

Al Jahoori, who first won this race with Rabbah De Carrere in 2014, said: “To win this for a second time is a dream and I’m very happy. I have to thank His Highness Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan for his support.”

His son and assistant trainer Sultan added: “Congratulations to my team. Hayyan did very well. He won Round 2 and we were hopeful that he would come and win again today. He did well and won a very exciting race.

“This horse is very sensitive. My heart stopped when I saw him stopping (near the finishing post) but he carried on and thankfully he won. My dad won this for the first time when I was just 14 years old, Rabbah De Carrere was one of the best horses we’ve ever had and finally we’ve had another champion with Hayyan. I hope that there are more to come.

“I’m not sure what we will do next, we will have to talk to the boss.”

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