Saturday morning, one week out from the Dubai World Cup, and arguably the most important training day of all, at least for a good number of the Americans, they were giving their horses a final serious work out before the main event.
Dubai-based Italian jockey Antonio Fresu was the most popular man on the ground, with his services in demand to partner no less than seven horses for a variety of trainers, all wanting a good jockey to look after their athletes and be capable of giving them worthwhile feedback, an essential ingredient in the recipe for successfully training racehorses.
My star of the morning was, yet again, Dubai World Cup second-favourite Hot Rod Charlie, who breezed 5/8th mile under Fresu, who reported back: “He was quite fresh and a little bit naughty but I was very happy with him.”
Fresu also accompanied Country Grammer, runner-up in last month’s Saudi Cup and said: ”He was very good and I can’t say which one is better, they both worked in the same time. They are just different horses.”
He did reveal a slight leaning to Hot Rod Charlie when he said, “He’s a natural, light on his feet and finds it very easy.”
Fresu was also on board Pinehurst, Bob Baffert’s UAE Derby hope, but I can’t personally profess to have been very impressed with the horse in his piece of work. Fresu said: “ I think he is a horse that will improve in a race, in the morning he is lazy and maybe needs some company.”
The Todd Pletcher-trained Dubai World Cup favourite Life is Good worked nicely, if a little unspectacular in his presence, though we must give him time as it is only early days for him here in Dubai.
I could dream about sitting on Bill Mott’s UAE Derby contender Gilded Age. So striking is he to look at and he could yet be a special one as he is a very big three-year-old and I imagine anything he achieved as a two-year-old will have been taken as a bonus by Mr. Mott.
The starting stalls team were flat out during the 5 am set on track with lots of Japanese customers bringing horses for a first look at the stalls.
Mitch Barnard, a senior member of the British gate crew told me: “We had a good few Japanese over there this morning and they were all good. The Americans have all been during through the gates here and as normal they are different class in the gates. It’s good to get to know each horse before race day.”
I shall be back on track Sunday morning.
The author is a former Derby-winning trainer and monther of world-renowned jockeys, James and Sophie Doyle.