The Dubai World Cup from Meydan showcased the talents of several potential stars of the coming Flat racing season.
Roger Varian was the beneficiary when Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum decided to move his classy colt Postponed to a new yard towards the end of last season. The King George winner continues to improve, and travelled well throughout the Dubai Sheema Classic before hitting the front just outside the final furlong. He comfortably held the highly touted Japanese four-year-old Duramente to win by two lengths.
Despite having won such a colossal prize, Varian remained his usual composed self when interviewed, saying: “That was good to watch. I was happy from the outset really. They went an even gallop, Andrea got him in a good position and he quickened nicely. He's a very good horse. He has thrived since he has come out here so all the credit has to go to my staff. We'll get him home and make a plan, though he will be contesting the main mile-and-a-half races in the summer.”
That plan is likely to take in Royal Ascot and could include a crack at the Arc which the horse famously missed last autumn due to the unexpected decision to change stables. Though now a five-year-old, he appears progressive, and looks sure to be one of the outstanding talents during the coming summer.
The runner-up should not be overlooked and may also finish the season in Paris. Duramente was running for only the second time after returning from injury, and as such remains a very lightly raced four-year-old. He’s one hell of a unit, and looks sure to improve further as the season progresses. He’s not without his quirks, and that will remain a concern for connections, especially at the feature meetings when his temperament will come under the utmost scrutiny.
The feature event, the Dubai World Cup, went to the star of the show California Chrome. The American’s remain deadly on dirt, and Art Sherman’s hero proved far too good on this occasion. Running over his optimum trip, he always looked to have the race in safe keeping and duly pulled clear to win by almost four lengths.
His jockey Victor Espinoza had kicked for home sooner than anticipated due to a slipping saddle, but he was nevertheless always confident of success. After the win he said: “He has done everything right, it was perfect. Sometimes it's better to stay a little bit further wide than being stuck inside but everything went well. I sent him out of the gate assuming I could take the lead but it was impossible, so I stuck right with the leaders.”
Espinoza went on: “Turning for home, I couldn't wait any longer and I had to go because I felt like the saddle was slipping back. I didn't want to take any chances. I know it was really far back but I wasn't really paying attention. I want to say thank you to everyone that follows me and all the Chrome team. I know it's not easy to choose the right jockey to win this race and it means a lot to me. I've been close twice, so third time was the charm.”
Californian Chrome looks set to skip a trip to the UK this summer with his trainer targeting the Breeders’ Cup and another crack at ‘The Classic’. “We'll give him 30 days on the farm to unwind then our ultimate goal is the Breeders' Cup," said Sherman.
Whatever the season’s targets, the meeting at Meydan certainly served to whet the appetite.