Racing: Singspiel on top of world

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The Independent Online
This sport truly came of global age here last night as Singspiel proved himself the best horse in the world. The five-year-old, who had already won at the highest level on grass in Canada and Japan, transferred his talents to dirt with devastating effect to take a dramatic second running of the world's richest race, the $4m (pounds 2.5m) Dubai World Cup. The success took his earnings to over $5.5m.

The little five-year-old, bred and raised in Ireland, trained in Newmarket by Michael Stoute, ridden by the American Jerry Bailey and owned by Sheikh Mohammed, threw his big racing heart out in front of him and chased it to the finish as he battled home in front of the two challengers from the United States, the stablemates Siphon and Sandpit. The locally based Key Of Luck was fourth, another American, Formal Gold, finished fifth and Australia's Juggler was a gallant sixth.

But racing's richest prize packed triumph and tragedy in equal measure, for as Singspiel crossed the line, the Japanese contender, Hokuta Vega, lay fatally injured. The mare, winner of more than $8m in her home country, clipped the backpedalling heels of Even Top as the field bunched for the home turn, and broke a foreleg as she crashed. Bijou D'Inde was brought down as he tried to hurdle her inert form, but was not seriously hurt. His rider, Jason Weaver, broke some teeth and was taken to hospital.

Bailey, 39, now has something of a monopoly on World Cup winners, having scored on Cigar in last year's inaugural running. He saved every inch, keeping Singspiel handy on the rails as Formal Gold and Siphon led an arrowhead down the back stretch, with Sandpit and Key Of Luck riding shotgun.

In the three-furlong straight, as the jockeys began the shift to drive position, Bailey had yet to see daylight, but knew he had some horse under him. "I had no reason to push the panic button," Bailey said. "I was on the bridle, and there was a long way to go." The gap appeared just after the two-furlong marker, and Singspiel's response was immediate as he dived past Formal Gold and Siphon.

"I know Siphon is tough; I've ridden against him often enough and most of the time you don't get by him," Bailey added. "The fact that we did says a lot for Singspiel. It was his first time on dirt but he was fast enough to stay close, so he had the kickback only on his chest, not his face. But the way he was tonight he would have gone through anything."

Stoute, who has masterminded Singspiel's international campaign with the utmost skill, said: "This is a proper horse, tough and so, so brave. He has already proved he is top class on turf, but to come here and do it on the sand as well is overwhelming. I had hoped he was ready for the race when it was abandoned on Saturday; he was definitely ready for this. It was a wonderful moment."

Richard Mandella, whose Siphon gave him the runner-up spot for the second time, was generous in defeat. "It's a choker, but I underestimated the talents of Singspiel and Michael Stoute, and they beat me fair."

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