Puerto Madero to shake Dubai
Saturday 25 March 2000
For Dubai World Cup night at Nad Al Sheba read May Day in Red Square. This evening's seven-race card is a lot more than just another sumptuous international meeting. It is Sheikh Mohammed's design to prove he can attract the best to his country and, if the script runs properly, beat them all.
The parade of firepower comes in the shape of the Godolphin troops, 28 of whom will be sent out to challenge their foreign visitors. This meeting will soon be the most lucrative on earth and it already attracts the insular Americans because of its offerings. Bob Baffert, the leading Stateside trainer, did not have a complicated answer when asked what drew him to the Gulf. "The money," he said. The financial siren call which emanates from here is heard in any language.
The biggest pot of them all is the fifth Dubai World Cup, which this year is worth a staggering $6m. It seems a rather expensive way of getting racing folk to come to your homeland but then Sheikh Mohammed never intends to see the prizemoney travel far. Following the victories of Singspiel and Almutawakel, the Maktoums stand at two-each with the Americans (Cigar and Silver Charm) and the odds suggest they will take the lead with Dubai Millennium.
The four-year-old will be sent out for competition after a lavish opening ceremony in which the stunning grey Subzero, a Melbourne Cup winner, will be seen down on his knees bowing to the Sheikhs' box. The royal hosts anticipate his 13 rivals will be doing the same before Dubai Millennium at the end of the mile and a quarter journey on dirt.
It is an anomaly of the World Cup that Godolphin's chosen rider, Frankie Dettori, has finished last on three of his four starts in the race. But now he has at his disposal a horse who broke the track record here on his first dirt start this month and the first to break two minutes for the 2,000m trip.
The Americans attend in strength and the best of them, according to the books, is Behrens, who will emerge in the 007 emblazoned rug of his trainer, H (Harold) James Bond.
Bobby Frankel, the man behind Public Purse, arrived on Tuesday but the same could not be said for his luggage. His week may end a little better with a horse that will go well at a big price. The each-way value though is another of the Americans, Puerto Madero (5.30), who was third in "the Big Cap", the Santa Anita Handicap. His jockey, Laffit Pincay, shows no sign of boredom of the winners' enclosure even as the sport's winningmost rider grinds towards 9,000 wins. Running Stag and Lear Spear, Britain's runners, are not good enough.
Those within Godolphin say China Visit is their talking horse in the UAE Derby, Mahfooth the one with most potential and Pacino (2.35) the most likely winner, and are more confident about the prospects of Lend A Hand (3.35) in the Golden Shaheen. He can beat the monolith Big Jag, who is trained by a former Josh Gifford rider in Tim Pinfield. He now plies a somewhat warmer trade in California.
The Sheema Classic should see a further rehabilitation of High-Rise (4.10), the 1998 Derby winner who made a winning comeback over course and distance last month. In another turf race, the Duty Free, Godolphin once again field the favourite in Kabool, yet this can go to Kingsala (4.45) and the great French triumvirate of Wildenstein, Fabre and Peslier.
* BBC2 will show the Dubai World Cup and Duty Free live in a programme starting at 4.30. Recordings of the 1.30, a race for horses of the arab breed, 2.00 and 2.35 will be shown during the afternoon's racing coverage from Newbury, while recordings of the 3.35 and 4.10 will be shown in the World Cup programme.
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