Animal Kingdom supreme beyond all borders

Dubai Cup winner provides a glorious example to all would-be rulers of racing across the world stage

True to its billing, as a World Cup, the 18th running of the richest horserace on the planet offered fresh courage and inspiration to those determined that frontiers should no longer be perceived as barriers. Over the past couple of years, they have endured dispiriting retrenchment by insular forces on either side of the Atlantic. In the United States, brave attempts to fill in a moat of drugs and dirt seem to have been defeated, for now, by vested interests. In Britain, meanwhile, momentous opportunity and investment have been dissipated by misapprehensions that seem barely less parochial. The champion who united the attention of both cultures on Saturday, however, offers a wholesome reproof to each.

Animal Kingdom's stunning performance in Dubai showed American conservatives that even a winner of their most cherished prize can adapt to an environment that redresses welfare concerns raised by their stubborn approach to medication and racing surfaces. Having established his calibre on dirt in the 2011 Kentucky Derby, Animal Kingdom has since achieved equivalent status on turf and now on a synthetic surface. In Dubai, moreover, he proved himself in a jurisdiction that prohibits raceday medication.

He has done all this in the silks of a syndicate headed by one of the most vociferous campaigners for new enlightenment on the American Turf. Barry Irwin is appalled that the organisers of the Breeders' Cup have meekly yielded to reactionary protests against a proposed drugs clampdown. While themselves embracing the world beyond, with less prohibitive eligibility and costs, they cannot seem to persuade their indigenous professional community to grasp the sort of nettle that might warrant the formal branding of their series as the Thoroughbred World Championships. An experiment with a synthetic surface at Santa Anita, for instance, was hastily abandoned after unprecedented European success there.

As such, Animal Kingdom is a prototype for the 21st-century international thoroughbred. Not only did he stem a tide of disappointment for American raiders, since the World Cup moved from a dirt track at Nad al Sheba to its sumptuous new setting at Meydan, he did so in pursuit of a schedule that flouts timid perimeters. Even his switch to turf, at the last Breeders' Cup, showed due adventure; and now he is flying to Britain to prepare for Royal Ascot.

Both those departures from convention contain lessons for our own sport, gratified as it is to lure another bona fide superstar. At the Breeders' Cup, many arrogantly assumed that Excelebration could not have shown his best when third in the Mile. But the winner, Wise Dan, is a Horse of the Year on grass – a very rare distinction, in the United States – while Animal Kingdom would have beaten them both, more or less on the bridle, had he not been caught in traffic. Now that everyone has seen what he can do, with a clear run, perhaps they will accept that Frankel was not alone in being able to make Excelebration look pedestrian.

Excelebration, of course, was nearly unique at Churchill Downs in risking the two-week turnaround demanded by those culpably narrow minds who scheduled Qipco Champions Day at Ascot in direct competition with the Breeders' Cup.

With both Black Caviar and Animal Kingdom likely to show up, Royal Ascot is confirmed as the proper time and place for international champions to enhance their reputations in Britain. It is nearly impossible to imagine connections of any such horse remotely contemplating a visit to the same track in mid-October. The royal meeting offers all the kudos to redress a congenital deficiency in financial incentives, and also enables elite horses to come here without missing anything else. As it happens, Animal Kingdom is due to start his Australian stud career in September, but any such horse could ordinarily proceed from Dubai to Royal Ascot before being freshened up for the Breeders' Cup or autumn's other glittering prizes.

British horsemen are penalised by a sense of obligation to the investment made to keep them on home soil in the autumn. Their eligibility for bigger purses elsewhere was underlined by Red Cadeaux, Planteur and Side Glance, who filled the frame behind Animal Kingdom. Ed Dunlop has harvested many huge prizes abroad with Ouija Board and Snow Fairy, but is surpassing himself with Red Cadeaux. Beaten a nose in the 2011 Melbourne Cup, the veteran gelding remains a bit player on home turf but has won £700,000 and £1.2m in his last two starts, winning in Hong Kong in December and finishing second in Dubai on Saturday. For such a performer, the only stage is all the world.

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
Sport
Romelu Lukaku puts pen to paper
sport
News
Robyn Lawley
people
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
News
Sabina Altynbekova has said she wants to be famous for playing volleyball, not her looks
people
News
i100
Life and Style
tech'World's first man-made leaves' could use photosynthesis to help astronauts breathe
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

SAP Project Manager

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MANAGER - 3 MONTHS - BERKSHI...

Senior Investment Accounting Change Manager

£600 - £700 per day + competitive: Orgtel: Senior Investment Accounting Change...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Functional Consultant

£65000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A rare opportun...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star