UAE

COMMENT: Weather fails to rain on Dubai World Cup parade

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Dubai is a city not used to saying ‘no’. This unalloyed sense of showmanship and grandeur has driven the growth of this Middle Eastern metropolis from humble roots in the middle of the 20th century.

A negative outlook would not have allowed the world’s tallest building in the Burj Khalifa to be conceived or indeed the richest horse race, until finally usurped by January’s Pegasus Cup, the Dubai World Cup.

This enterprising spirit ensured the gloomy skies and sodden turf that greeted race goers morning was never going to stop the 22nd running. To have done so would have gone against Dubai’s ethos.

For good or bad, an attitude of ‘the show must go on’ is applied within the limits of acceptable risks. A repeat of the postponement from two decades ago upon a truly-apocalyptic downpour was not going to happen, no matter the doom-mongering.

Horses had been kept off on wet mornings in the build-up to protect a surface which was judged as ‘yielding’ on race day.

For dirt to be unusable, a monsoon was required – something which simply didn’t occur. The Roads and Transport Authority also issued an alert on Twitter to expect delays.

The committed souls who braved heavy rain to arrive early at midday were greeted by umbrellas at the information desk as they headed in. This was just a hint at the all encompassing provisions applied by organisers, Dubai Racing Club.

Numbers were down at that stage compared to previous years, though the epic reception granted to the competitors as Doug Watson’s Second Summer took the Godolphin Mile when the action got underway at 15:45 proved that damp punters had no desire to miss out.

Not even the return of the inclement weather as the horses were moved into position for the Al Quoz Sprint around 17:30 could call a halt to the celebratory proceedings.

The Meydan Style Stakes was the only partial victim, a “very simple affair” inside the hastily-rearranged location of Concourse C instead providing the venue for the annual celebration of extravagant suits and fascinators.

The Dubai World Cup is one of the landmark events on the nation’s calendar. The love for horse racing by the city’s ruling Al Maktoum family has imbued the showpiece with a special passion.

Yet it is incorrect to think this comes at all costs.

The iconic image of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, bravely deciding to postpone the 1997 running of the World Cup by drawing a hand across his throat evidences this.

Puddles of water, not present last night, pockmarked a surface which required the help of UAE Air Force helicopters to dry in time to be used five days later.

With this painful memory in mind, provisions had been made to ensure fans of the pastime who had travelled from across the globe were not to be disappointed.

Come heavy rain or occasional shine, it became apparent upon entry that it takes something special to derail both the World Cup and the proud city that hosts it.

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Dubai World Cup: Victory for Arrogate

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Victorious trainer Bob Baffert declared he had seen history in the making as overwhelming favourite Arrogate overcame a slow start to epically claim the $10 million Dubai World Cup.

The three-year-old American Thoroughbred headed into the damp 22nd running of the event after days of thunderstorms as both reigning World’s Best Racehorse and hotly-tipped Breeders' Cup Classic holder. But this reputation appeared to count for nothing as he drifted out of the stalls in last place and surprisingly failed to show any signs of an immediate recovery from 12 lengths off the pace.

A sudden jolt encouraged by jockey Mike ‘Big-Money’ Smith then saw him dramatically eat up the ground in front of the electrified stands at Meydan Racecourse, stealing the lead with 200m left and charging on to become the highest-earning horse on record at more than $17m.

For the experienced Baffert, now a three-time World Cup winner, runner-up Gun Runner and third-placed Neolithic were left in the wake of an incredible competitor who was “stamping his legacy”.
“When he missed the break, I thought ‘boy, maybe I shouldn’t have brought him, maybe he’s tired?’,” said the overjoyed 64-year-old, who previously triumphed with Silver Charm and Captain Steve in the UAE. “All these things go through your mind.



“He is this great horse and was dead last. Then down the back side, I didn’t know if he was in the running or not.

“Mike was on the outside and I thought he’d take care of him. He started making a little move and I got some hope.

“Then he turned for home. I told my wife: ‘if he wins this race, he’ll be the most incredible horse I’ve ever seen’.

“And there he went. He has that long stride and he sees a target coming up.

“It was like watching the movie, ‘Seabiscuit’. It was like a Hollywood type of finish.




“It was incredible that this horse came here, on a long shift. I didn’t know if he’d be on his ‘Super-A game’, but in the last few days he’s been training well.

“Mike Smith, ‘Big-Money Mike’, was sitting back there and he just let the horse gather himself. He is still a big kid, learning how to run.

“He can go in the lead, he can be last, he is just incredible. I think what we saw today was him stamping his legacy, how incredible is this horse?”

Smith, 51, has saddled Arrogate since August. The Travers Stakes, Breeders’ Cup, Pegasus World Cup and now the Dubai World Cup have been added in this time.

He said: “I had so much confidence in him, once he levelled off and he just moved a little he jumped ahead. When he did that, I thought: ‘we’re still here.’

“I actually geared him down a little, as I didn’t want him to hit the front and start looking around. When I called on him when heading for home, he just took off - he’s incredible.”

It was not just the winning party who were left in awe by Arrogate’s turbo-charged recovery.

Florent Geroux, rider of runner-up Gun Runner, said: "I was travelling as well as I could have hoped turning in and thought we had a great chance of victory until Arrogate arrived and he was just awesome."


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IN PICS: Dubai World Cup 2017

Sport360 staff 25/03/2017
The best pictures from Saturday.

It's the biggest sporting and social occasion in the Dubai calendar.

And, despite the rain and unusual UAE weather, racegoers turned out in force on Saturday for the Dubai World Cup.

Here's a selection of the best images from Meydan Racecourse as another special day unfolded.

Were you at Meydan? Message us on Instagram, using @sport360 and #Sport360 and share your race day experiences on Twitter or via Facebook.

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