A trip to Royal Ascot could be on the cards for Stay Foolish after the Japanese raider outgunned the previously unbeaten Manobo in the Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan
A winner at Newbury, Kempton and twice in France last year, the Charlie Appleby-trained Manobo made it five from five on his Dubai debut in last month’s Nad Al Sheba Trophy.
The four-year-old was a prohibitively priced 4-11 favourite as he stepped up to two miles for the first time under William Buick, but it was clear from an early stage all was not going according to plan.
With the gallop sedate, Manobo pulled violently for his head, expending valuable energy.
It is testament to his raw ability that he still managed to fight his way to lead in the straight, but he was caught close home by Christophe Lemaire and Yoshito Yahagi’s 4-1 shot Stay Foolish, who was following up his lucrative success in the Red Sea Turf Handicap in Riyadh four weeks ago.
Yahagi was completing a quick-fire double on the card after landing the preceding Godolphin Mile with widely unconsidered 80-1 shot Bathrat Leon.
“Excellent – unbelievable,” said the trainer.
“He’s enjoyed the atmosphere in his training in Dubai and my aim is the Gold Cup at Ascot.”
Lemaire said: “He didn’t break as fast as he did in Saudi so I was behind a good horse but happy to be on the inside.
“He doesn’t have a big turn of foot and I thought the potatoes were done, but in the end he outstayed them. I think he could run in any Group One, anywhere.”
Appleby said of Manobo: “Stepping up from a mile and a half I had it in the back of my mind that it could be the end of the Richter Scale, but considering what he did in the first half of the race he did well to run as well as he did.”
Bathrat Leon was a shock winner of the Nakheel-sponsored Godolphin Mile – dominating from the front under Yahagi’s apprentice Ryusei Sakai.
“I found it easy to get on the lead and he travelled very well. He had good form on turf in Japan, but he loved Meydan,” said the winning rider.
“This is my dream come true. I was not confident but not surprised. He’s a good horse.”
There was further success for Japan in the UAE Derby, with Koichi Shintani’s Crown Pride (11-1) striking gold in the hands of Damian Lane.
Crown Pride carries the colours of Teruya Yoshida, who said: “He’s nominated for the Kentucky Derby and I am not against going.
“Things have changed this last five and 10 years. Japan’s trainers have improved and our owners are big investors.”
The Dubai Golden Shaheen went to veteran sprinter Switzerland (22-1), trained by Bhupat Seemar and ridden by the UAE’s all-time leading jockey Tadhg O’Shea.
O’Shea said: “From the off connections planned three races. He won the race here on New Year’s Day when he was electric and then ran in Saudi Arabia (finished sixth).
“Connections have kept his races spaced out as he needs to be fresh but confident. Touch wood, he’s never moved as well.
“I’ve been very fortunate to win nine championships out here, but it’s a big job to get the first Group One off your bucket list.”