Musabah Al Muhairi and Silvestre de Sousa win Chengdu Dubai International Cup

Sport360 staff 13:55 04/04/2015
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Chinese takeaway: Special Fighter.

UAE Champion Trainer Musabah Al Muhairi and stable jockey Silvestre de Sousa topped off a highly successful season with victory in the Chengdu Dubai International Cup presented by Longines at Jinma Lake in China yesterday.

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Special Fighter beat off challenges from the Doug Watson trained pair of Jutland and Henry Clay to triumph in the RMB1.5m (US$241,990) 2218m race.

He was followed over the line by Counterglow, a 2.5 length second under Wayne Smith and the Richard Mullen-ridden Start Right. 

Al Muhairi was completing a double after his Special Boy, winner on the same card last year, claimed the opening contest, The Wenjiang Sprint over 1400m for jockey, Tadhg O’Shea.

“It’s been an amazing season for Oasis 1 Stables and to top it off with an international win in China is fantastic for the whole team who all work very hard,” said Al Muhairi.

“It’s been great to come back to Chengdu for a second time and showcase our racing.” 

Doug Watson and Sam Hitchcott also combined for a double on the day when Life Partner won the Wenjiang Meydan Classic over 1600m and Hacienda claimed the Guangsha Mile sponsored by the Bank of Dalian.

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Beaten California Chrome may race Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot

Peter Ward 06:15 30/03/2015
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Headed to the UK: California Chrome.

California Chrome, second in Saturday’s Dubai World Cup, is set to travel to the UK, not back to America, where he will be based in Newmarket, housed in the yard of Rae Guest.

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The Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot is his likely main target, although he could run in Newbury’s Group 1 Lockinge Stakes before that.

His trainer, Art Sherman, will be travelling ‘periodically’ to England before spending more time there to supervise final preparations.

His co-owner, Perry Martin, explained: “We were grateful for the chance to race in Dubai and are equally delighted to have this Royal Ascot opportunity. We are very much looking forward to the experience.”

The surprise move goes against Sherman’s initial intention to give California Chrome a break following his exploits in Dubai.

“I was looking forward to giving him a rest,” Sherman said. “I’m not sure everyone realises that this is going to be a tired horse. That was a hard race on him.”

On California Chrome’s impending trip to Britain, Sherman added: “I feel like I’ve lost a friend. “I’m going to miss looking down the shed row and seeing the horse in his stall. It’s going to be hard on him, too. I hope it works out for the horse.”

A four-year-old, Chrome won his only previous start on turf, in the Grade 1 Hollywood Derby in late November last year. Assuming he makes his Royal Ascot date, he could well clash with Solow and The Grey Gatsby, first and second in Saturday’s Group 1 Dubai Turf.

With Al Quoz Sprint winner Sole Power set to seek a third win in the King’s Stand Stakes at the Royal Meeting, it appears he may well clash again with Peniaphobia and Amber Sky, second and third respectively in Saturday’s 1,000m turf dash.

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Godolphin hope UAE Derby winner Mubtaahij will ride in Kentucky Derby

Peter Ward 06:07 30/03/2015
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Double burden: Mubtaahij, Christophe Soumillon, on his way to winning the UAE Derby on Dubai World Cup night last Saturday

Mubtaahij, trained by Mike De Kock for Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum, will seek his place in the history books in early May by trying to add the Kentucky Derby to Saturday’s victory in the Group 2 UAE Derby.

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Godolphin have attempted the double, on several occasions, with China Visit (2000), Express Tour (2001), Essence Of Dubai (2002) and Regal Ransom (2009). A sixth from China Visit was the best achieved by the Godolphin runners with Maftool, runner-up to Mubtaahij on Saturday, likely to try and improve their record.

Ridden by Christophe Soumillon, Mubtaahij won, eased down by eight lengths to guarantee him a place in the Churchill Downs feature on May 2, while Maftool’s effort will, hopefully, be enough to secure him a berth.

Soumillon explained: “They went a good gallop so I was happy to track it before asking him to win his race. The race was over almost instantly and I was able to ease him down to preserve energy with the Kentucky Derby in mind.”

De Kock added: “Going to America is definitely the plan at the moment. We will wait and see how he comes out of the race and will probably commit early next week.” De Kock knows how to win in America – having saddled Horse Chestnut to a Grade 2 win in 2000.

American journalists were impressed and many compared the Meydan surface to that at Churchill Downs. Immediately after Saturday’s race, Daily Racing Form’s Marcus Hersh said: “He has shown all the right attributes to win a Kentucky Derby.”

Such is the demand for slots in the Kentucky Derby, hopefuls earn points in designated races to make the final field. Mubtaahij earned 100 points, Maftool 50. Both colts were early nominees to the American Triple Crown of which the Kentuck Derby is the first and most prestigious leg.

Another first and second from Saturday’s card who could clash again over the summer are the 1-2 from the Dubai Turf in which Solow, providing Freddie Head a first UAE winner, was ultra impressive in victory. He was chased home by The Grey Gatsby and both horses could take their chance at Royal Ascot in June.

Head said: “He is one of the best horses I have ever trained and Saturday was brilliant. We will take him home and perhaps look at the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.”

Trainer Kevin Ryan was delighted with the runner-up and said: “The winner won well but my lad produced a great effort and will be a lot fitter next time.

“The Tattersalls Gold Cup in Ireland and the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Ascot will probably be his next two starts.”

Meanwhile, the Eddie Lynamtrained Sole Power will head back to Royal Ascot and attempt to win a third consecutive King’s Stand Stakes.

Like Head, Lynam was saddling a first UAE winner said: “All things being well, he will go back to Ascot to defend his crown again.”

Yesterday, trainer Tom Dascombe reported that Brown Panther, bred and part-owned by ex-England footballer Michael Owen, was in fine fettle.

He said: “He has trotted up perfectly this morning and eaten everything we have given him. It was a great night. We will have to look at races like the Ascot Gold Cup, in which he ran so well last year in third, the same position he filled in the Goodwood Cup.

“He landed last year’s Group 1 Irish St Leger which is an option, perhaps the Melbourne Cup even. We have plenty of options but have lots of time to decide.”

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