Who will win the Dubai World Cup on 26th March 2011? Part 1

February 28, 2011

For sixteen long years Sheikh Mohammed has attempted to build the Dubai World Cup into the biggest and best Horse Race in the World. But, despite some superb winners of the race – Cigar, Dubai Millennium and Curlin to name but three, the Sheikh hasn’t quite yet realised his dream.

The problem has not been the prize money – with a purse of $10 million dollars, the race is officially the richest in the World. Nor has the Sheikh failed to attract top quality challengers from England, Japan and the USA. No – the problem has been Coolmore. John Magnier’s superpower of the Breeding industry has never had a runner in the race – and with so many Champions emanating from Ballydoyle over the past decade or so, Coolmore’s absence has severely dented the credibility of the race.

That was until Cape Blanco – Coolmore’s Irish Derby and Irish Champion Stakes winner –  was surprisingly included among this year’s entries.

Who knows what the politics were behind this move? Maybe this is a tactical play by Coolmore to thaw the ice cold relationship between themselves and Darley (Darley have refused to buy anything at the sales sired by a Coolmore stallion since 2005). Or, maybe it is the Sheikh who has hinted that he may be willing to break that impasse if it could lure some Coolmore runners to the Dubai Carnival? Whatever – one thing is certain. If Cape Blanco runs – he will be extremely hard to beat.

Admittedly, consistency wasn’t Cape Blanco’s strong suit last season. He raced six times and was arguably a bit disappointing on three of those starts. But, when he was good, he was very good. The Epsom Derby and  Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe hero Workforce may not have been quite at his best in the Dante Stakes, but even so – Cape Blanco destroyed him that day at York in a fast time. And better was to come. Cape Blanco proved at the Curragh that he could last out a mile and a half when winning the Irish Derby and his performance in the Irish Champion Stakes was one of the defining moments of the European Turf season.

To watch the race at Leopardstown that day, it seemed in the early stages that Cape Blanco was setting a suicidal tempo. He was surely going too fast and merely setting up the race for his better fancied stablemate, Rip Van Winkle (a horse who had run the great Sea The Stars close in 2009)? That kind of gallop cannot possibly be sustained? As they rounded the home turn, it was just a matter of time before Cape Blanco would come back to the pack…

But, come back he did not – and Cape Blanco powered on to record an amazing 5.5 length victory. He proved that day that he possesses an incredible blend of speed and stamina – and if Coolmore keep this date in the desert (and let’s hope they do) then it will take a truly world class performance to beat him.

Next week – the English challenge for Dubai World Cup glory – Introducing Twice Over, Snow Fairy (below) and Gitano Hernando.

 

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