Weekend horse racing around globe sets stage for Saudi, Dubai riches – UPI.com

1 of 2 | Kabirkhan’s Kazakhstani connections celebrate victory in the Group 1 Maktoum Challenge, which earned the horse a spot in the Dubai World Cup. Photo courtesy of Dubai Racing Club

Jan. 28 (UPI) — Weekend horse racing around the world turned up plenty of potential runners for the upcoming $20 million Saudi Cup, $12 million Dubai World Cup and other rich races on those programs.

Upsets in Hong Kong and South Africa also played into the picture.

A look at the action around the globe:


The “Fashion Friday” card has all but replaced Super Saturday on the revamped Dubai Carnival schedule as the most important day of preps for World Cup night.

The inaugural edition showed the change to best advantage, with Godolphin runners flexing their muscles in the turf events and success well spread around in the dirt races.

Put a big ring around the name Kabirkhan. The Kentucky-bred colt by California Chrome, Kazakhsan-owned and Russian-raced, swept to an easy victory in the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge, defeating a decent field that included the Chad Summers-trained Clapton, who finished third.

Kabirkhan took the lead early in the stretch run and drew off to win by 4 3/4 lengths — his second win in as many starts in the UAE. The victory earned him a spot in the World Cup itself, which is just the goal his owners seek.

“We’ll see what they want to do,” winning trainer Doug Watson said. “There’s a third leg, obviously, on Super Saturday. But if they want to go straight to World Cup, I’m happy with that.”

Also on the Meydan Racecourse dirt, Mendelssohn Bay posted an easy victory in the Group 3 UAE 2,000 Guineas, earning a spot in the Group 2 UAE Derby on World Cup night. That race awards the winner 100 “Road to the Kentucky Derby” points.

“I think he’s going to get better with distance,” said Mendelssohn Bay’s trainer, Bhupat Seemar, a former assistant to Bob Baffert in California and a fan of the U.S. Triple Crown races.

Also, Mouheeb scored a 6 3/4-length victory in the Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint, a prep for the Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen. And Hypothetical battled through the stretch to win the Group 3 Firebreak Stakes by 3/4 length, earning consideration for the Group 2 Godolphin Mile on March 30.

Godolphin horses trained by Charlie Appleby won all four turf events on the “Fashion Friday” card with William Buick riding three and Mickael Barzalona the fourth.

Appleby saddled the exacta in the Group 1 Jebel Hatta at 1,800 meters, a prep for the Dubai Turf. Measured Time, a 4-year-old Frankel colt, rolled to his fifth win from six starts, defeating stablemate Ottoman Fleet by 1 3/4 lengths.

Godolphin missed a 1-2-3 finish as the Saeed Bin Suroor-trained Mawj, second in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf, been shut off in the stretch and basically eased through the final sixteenth.

Appleby won the Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort (G2) for the eighth time as Buick urged Mysterious Night through a narrow gap at mid-stretch and went on to win by 1 length. Mysterious Night, winner of the Grade I Summer Stakes at Woodbine as a 2-year-old, looked in danger of being shut off as he was making his winning move.

Appleby said the 4-year-old holds an invitation to the $1.5 million Group 2 1351 Turf Sprint on the Saudi Cup program in February, but also could stay in Dubai for Super Saturday and the Al Quoz.

Star of Mystery rallied from last to dominate the Group 2 Blue Point Sprint (G2) at 1,000 meters down the Meydan Racecourse straight.

The 3-year-old daughter of Kodiac was having her seasonal debut after a 2-year-old campaign in England that included two wins and a second in the Group 2 Duchess of Cambridge Stakes at Newmarket in July.

Appleby said Star of Mystery “will be back for Super Saturday first and then we’ll see what happens for World Cup night.”

Buick had all he could do to get Siskany home first in the night’s finale, the Al Khail Trophy, a trial for the 2-miles Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup on World Cup night.

The 6-year-old Dubawi gelding, who finished second in the 2023 Gold Cup, trailed the field into the stretch and was just up in the final jump to win by a short head.

Hong Kong

Sunday’s Group 1 Centenary Sprint Cup at Sha Tin Racecourse shaped up as another showdown between the world’s highest-rated sprinter, Lucky Sweynesse, and his older rival, Wellington.

Neither, however, was there at the end of the 1,200 meters as Victor the Winner, after leading all the way, posted his first Grade 1 victory. Lucky With You held on for second 1 1/2 lengths back, ahead of Wellington in third. Lucky Sweynesse finished sixth.

“We flew out of the gate,” said winning jockey Derek Leung, so [we] took advantage and just went forward. He was quite relaxed after that and at the 500 meters, I knew he was going to kick very strong. Very lucky, it was a win.”

Lucky Sweynesse, rated best sprinter on the Longines World’s Best Racehorse listings at 125, was never in contention and finished sixth.

“[Lucky Sweynesse] didn’t jump slow, but he couldn’t get into stride and then when the horses got in front of him and backed the speed right off, that made it impossible from where we were. So, he just lost it in the first part of the race,” jockey Zac Purton said.

Winning trainer Danny Shum said Victor the Winner now might carry the Hong Kong flag overseas, perhaps at Chukyo Racecourse March 24 in the Grade 1 Takamatsunomiya Kinen.

South Africa

They run the races for a reason — a lesson driven home in spades in Saturday’s Group 1 World Sports Betting Capetown Met as Double Superlative at odds of 33-1 got home first, 1/2 length better than Rascallion at better than 12-1.

Without Question was third at 50-1 and the odds-on favorite, Say It Again, settled for fourth and small consolation to the chalk players.

Latest news
Related news