If the relevance of the G1 Dubai World Cup and its supporting races had ever been questioned, an emphatic reply was sent to all critics with Saturday’s glittering 23rd running serving up a series of stunning results that attracted global attention.
Yes, Thunder Snow (Helmet) was fantastic seeing off his rivals in the World Cup, Hawkbill (Kitten’s Joy) courageous in his defiance of all in the G1 Sheema Classic, Jungle Cat (Iffraaj) game to the bitter end in the G1 Al Quoz Sprint, and Benbatl (Dubawi) classy as ever in the G1 Dubai Turf.
What a brilliant night’s racing — the stars twinkled above Meydan as the equine version dazzled on the Turf and Dirt below.
Godolphin Blue was the only colour coding required to gain access to the winner’s enclosure, certainly in the elite races on this highly impressive card.
Results in the big races were testimony to the high level of skill and hard work supplied by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin teams under trainers Saeed bin Suroor and Charlie Appleby.
They also underlined the dominance of Darley stallions on the big night, with five of the eight winners of the thoroughbred races being by those currently on its roster.
Heavy Metal (Exceed And Excel) took the opening G2 Godolphin Mile in the colours of the Crown Prince Of Dubai, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, while Vazirabad (Manduro), in the green and red of His Highness The Aga Khan, completed a unique hat-trick of wins in the G2 Dubai Gold Cup.
Also, the amazing victory of the Aidan O’Brien-trained Mendelssohn (Scat Daddy) in the G2 UAE Derby, by a staggering 18 and a half lengths, saw him become a major contender for the G1 Kentucky Derby, in yet another endorsement of the night.
Two decades ago, many in the racing world were mildly amused when Sheikh Mohammed announced he would stage a major race meeting in Dubai. Then, when he said he would put on a $10m race, they were flabbergasted.
But the decision has changed global racing — forever. European horses are training in winter to prepare, their American counterparts remain on the go long past the Breeders’ Cup, while the Japanese and Australians taper their running plans when they find suitable candidates.
Dubai World Cup night is truly a ‘must’ on the international racing calendar, with the results likely to have a major influence on plans and assessments of horses for the rest of the year.
Thunder Snow has emerged as one of the most versatile and durable Godolphin runners in recent times.
Already a G1 winner on Turf at two and three, he showed incredible determination to win the UAE Derby last year and followed it up, 12 months later, with his brilliant triumph in the Dubai World Cup.
All four Godolphin winners are older horses, who have long graduated from the demands of their Classic year.
The way is now clear for them to bring further credence to Dubai World Cup night in some of the world’s major races in the months ahead.
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