Racing: Electrocutionist lights up Arabian night
Dubai World Cup: Dazzling double for the home team raises Godolphin's hopes for worldwide campaign
Sunday 26 March 2006
The two performances could scarcely have been more different, but together they gave the home team an exhilarating start to their next global campaign. In claiming the richest prize ever offered on a racecourse, Electrocutionist showed epic courage; in volunteering himself for the most coveted prize in the United States, Discreet Cat showed pure flair. Between them, they enabled Sheikh Mohammed to leave Nad al Sheba last night with a bewitching range of options for the months ahead.
Electrocutionist became his stable's fifth winner in 11 runnings of the Dubai World Cup. The Godolphin team had approached the race in a cautious spirit, and it was easy to see why after the horse missed the break and Frankie Dettori found himself stuck on the inside rail. "I felt like one of those divers who don't breathe for two minutes," the jockey said afterwards.
They were flat to the boards at halfway, but angled out soon afterwards and wore down Brass Hat with an arduous effort up the straight. His success had looked so unlikely for so long that the local crowds gave way to ululating hysteria when the Sheikh led the horse in.
"When I saw him pushed along at halfway, I thought it wasn't working out," said Simon Crisford, the Godolphin manager. "But he is such a willing horse, and that long run-in played to his strengths. He stays a mile and a half, and he could go for the Coronation Cup. It has been a wonderful night for us, because Electrocutionist represents the present and Discreet Cat the future."
Discreet Cat is 6-1 favourite for the Kentucky Derby with Coral after a breathtaking display in the UAE Derby, emerging off the pace on the bridle and surging six lengths clear. Certainly Godolphin have never run a horse at Churchill Downs with more natural ability. Even so, they prudently postponed any decision over his next move. "In the long term, he'll be a superstar," Crisford said. "But the horse has to go forward. The Kentucky Derby is a very tough race and everything depends on how he comes out of this."
Another stable to derive precious impetus from the meeting was Manton. David Junior was Brian Meehan's very first runner since moving from Lambourn three weeks ago and he could hardly have laid down a more spectacular marker than winning $3m (£1.7m) in the Dubai Duty Free. The colt travelled sweetly under restraint and pulverised his rivals when unleashed by Jamie Spencer. "I thought he had plenty to do, but Jamie had obviously judged the pace just right," Meehan said.
David Junior is owned by a wealthy man in David Sullivan, but he revealed that even he had been tempted by "a monstrous, monstrous offer for this horse". "It was one of the hardest decisions I have ever had to make," he said. "But it has always been my dream to win races like this. Now my dream has come true."
It was a less auspicious start to the season for Kieren Fallon. Having missed his first ride, stuck in traffic, he left Ouija Board with plenty to do as the Japanese runner Heart's Cry - King George-bound - dictated a steady gallop in the Sheema Classic. She was never really closing the gap in a sprint finish, ultimately beaten nine lengths into fourth, and it was Collier Hill who excelled for the British in second.
Fallon claimed Ouija Board had been upset by a fireworks display before the race. "I was worried about her going down to post," he said. "She travelled OK but never picked up for me. She wasn't herself." Her trainer, Ed Dunlop, seemed to consider this rather fanciful. "The first three were in front all the way and from off that slow pace she just didn't quicken," he said.
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