By Nicholas Godfrey
The Dubai World Cup Carnival for 2021 got under way with four Group races at Meydan on Thursday. Here’s some stuff you might like to know …
What’s going on?
Frankie Dettori: not one but two flying dismounts
For so long Dubai’s favourite adopted son, Frankie Dettori hadn’t ridden a winner in the Emirate since Opinion Poll on World Cup night in March 2012.
He had six mounts on Thursday’s opener at Meydan – and ended up with a double in the last two races courtesy of Land Of Legends and Equilateral. Cue, even without a crowd owing to Covid-19 restrictions, a pair of flying dismounts.
Saeed Bin Suroor: ‘Isn’t it great to see Frankie back?’
Land Of Legends started the ball rolling with a solid display at the head of a Godolphin 1-2-3-4 in the G2 Al Fahidi Fort.
This was a proper ‘old firm’ victory as the five-year-old, gelded since his last run, was one of five mounts for Dettori trained by his old Godolphin sparring partner Saeed Bin Suroor.
“Isn’t it great to see Frankie back, winning races and riding as well as ever?” said Bin Suroor, who supplied five of Dettori’s six rides. “We have been friends for about 27 years!”
Dettori added: “I’m delighted – we had high hopes all night and we managed to get one in the last race.”
That may have been their last race in tandem, but it wasn’t the last race overall as King’s Stand Stakes runner-up Equilateral (Charlie Hills), so good when fresh at the minimum, repeated last year’s success in the concluding 5f handicap.
Military Law makes Dubai World Cup claims
Even more lucrative targets were in the air for Military Law (Musabbeh Al Mheiri/Antonio Fresu) after the six-year-old ran on really well to win the first round of the Maktoum Challenge, the carded highlight of four Group races.
The gelded son of Dubawi is better over further – he was second in Rounds 2 and 3 in 2020 – and was cut in betting for the Dubai World Cup, with Paddy Power going 6-1 (from 10) and Ladbrokes 7-1 (from 16). The latter firm also go 9-1 for the Saudi Cup.
Dubai World Cup betting (Ladbrokes): 4 Charlatan, 6 Matterhorn, 7 Military Law (from 16), 8 Mishriff, Swiss Skydiver, 10 Chrysoberyl, Maxfield, Tacitus, 14 Chuwa Wizard, 16 Military March, 25 bar.
Dubai Turf on cards as Lord Glitters gets the glory
Popular grey gelding Lord Glitters (David O’Meara/Adrie de Vries) put Britain on the board when overwhelming his rivals in the final furlong to win a hot-looking edition of the G2 Singspiel.
Now eight, Lord Glitters was scoring for the first time since his G1 victory in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot in 2019.
Mind you, he seldom disgraces himself and things fell right for him here as the leaders went much too fast, setting it up for this habitual closer to score a ready three-length victory over Zakouski. He was third in the Dubai Turf two years ago and that race is set to provide his target once more.
“We’d love to get back to World Cup night and there’s a few nice races for him through the carnival before we get there,” said David O’Meara. Paddy Power go 6-1.
Military March disappoints
Disappointment of the Singspiel was undoubtedly Military March. Sent off hot favourite on his first run since he was fourth in the 2,000 Guineas, the Godolphin four-year-old faded tamely to come home eighth of 11 under Frankie Dettori. He is now 16-1 for the Dubai World Cup.
Switzerland a 50-1 shocker
Shock result of the opening night came in the Dubawi Stakes, when Switzerland opened his Dubai account at the seventh time of asking to give champion trainer Satish Seemar his seventh win in the last eight runnings of the G3 dirt sprint.
Although he had won a pair of G3s in his former life in the US, the seven-year-old had never been close to that level in the Gulf. However, it seems the gelding operation has worked the oracle as he sat just off a fast pace before outfinishing better-fancied rivals under top UAE rider Tadhg O’Shea.
Switzerland was returned at either 33-1 or 50-1 with British bookmakers.
Walton Street: Group performer in a handicap
Walton Street (Charlie Appleby/William Buick) lowered Hawkbill’s track record by two-hundredths of a second when slamming his rivals by five lengths in a 1m4f turf handicap. For the record, the lightly raced six-year-old stopped the clock in 2m26.83s.
Shall we talk about it?
William Buick (Walton Street jockey): “That was a really good performance. Obviously he’s had a bit of a break but he was dominant when he won at Newmarket in a competitive Listed race and he’s lightly raced for his age and had a lot of zest there. He really seemed to enjoy himself in in front, I was just a bit worried at a couple of stages that we might be doing too much, but he was in his comfort zone and he finished up really good.”
Tadhg O’Shea (Switzerland jockey): “I think it’s a combination of a couple of things, he was a former Grade 1 horse in the States, and he has been gelded, he has had a summer off, probably after a long time, and he has really matured. The yard thought they had stronger chances with Gladiator King and Bochart.”
Adrie de Vries (Lord Glitters jockey): “It probably did not go totally to plan because we missed the kick a bit and I didn’t want to push any buttons early, he can be very keen. The pace was good enough just to leave him there. He did things so quickly, I thought I had a long way to make up, but halfway through the straight I was sure to win. They ran at a good pace which helped me a lot.”
David O’Meara (Lord Glitters trainer): “He was brilliant. The race fell right for him but Adrie gave him a great ride. He ran a lovely race in Bahrain in November when it wasn’t run to suit. The fact he’s eight now but is still able to run to that sort of level is amazing. That was a helluva run and we know he likes the track.” (Racing Post)
Musabbeh Al Mheiri (Military Law jockey): “This year he is a better horse, I have worked him every week and I have seen how he has improved. I asked the jockey how do you feel, and the jockey said he is better than last year. I think he is a World Cup horse.”
Antonio Fresu (Military Law jockey): “This is just a lovely horse, a true gentleman and an absolute pleasure to be associated with. We only ran him four times last season and he was progressive over further but we thought they would go quick here which would bring his stamina into play. Luckily that proved the case. He has an entry in Saudi and otherwise the option is Maktoum Challenge Round 2 and 3 and then the World Cup.”
Frankie Dettori (Land Of Legends jockey): “I had a perfect trip – I sat behind the leaders and got the split at the right time. Actually I was probably going too good and getting there too soon. When we got to the furlong marker I asked him to quicken and bless me, he gave me all he had. It was a good effort but everything fell right – we had a good draw and got into a nice rhythm but these races are very competitive. if you ran it ten times you’d get ten different results.”
Saeed Bin Suroor (Land Of Legends trainer): “This horse has been working very well and showing lots of speed at home so we were hoping for a big run but he will improve for that because he had been off since March.”
Frankie Dettori (Equilateral jockey): “I’ve been watching this horse for the last three years, what he likes is a very fast, slick, five furlong track. Sometimes the English tracks are too demanding for him, but this is tailor-made for him.”
Jim Hay (Equilateral owner): “We are not surprised because he has genuine G1 form – Frankie has finally ridden us a winner after plenty of seconds and thirds!”