Dubai World Cup: Rank outsider Bathrath Leon rises for the land of the rising sun

The Japanese horse threw the form book well and truly out of the window



Owners of horse BATHRAT LEON (JPN) and jockey Ryusei Sakai pose with trophy during the presentation of Godolphin Mile Sponsored By Nakheel race of Dubai Word Cup at Meydan on Saturday, March 26. Photo by Rahul Gajjar
Owners of horse BATHRAT LEON (JPN) and jockey Ryusei Sakai pose with trophy during the presentation of Godolphin Mile Sponsored By Nakheel race of Dubai Word Cup at Meydan on Saturday, March 26. Photo by Rahul Gajjar
by

James Jose

Published: Sat 26 Mar 2022, 6:28 PM

The Group 2 Godolphin Mile was being built up as a battle between stablemates — defending champion, the battle-hardened veteran, Secret Ambition, and the new kid on the block, Al Nefud.

But Japan’s Bathrat Leon threw the form book well and truly out of the window.

A rank outsider in the eight-furlong affair, Bathrat Leon, trained by legendary Japanese handler Yoshito Yahagi, more or less led from start to finish to land the dirt contest.

Bathrat Leon became the second Japanese horse to win the Godolphin Mile after Utopia, saddled by Kojiro Hashiguchi, won the race back in 2006, under Yutaka Take.

Bathrat Leon, the four-year-old colt from Kizuna, won by a length and a quarter from Ahmed Al Shemaili’s Adrie De Vries ridden Desert Wisdom.

Godolphin’s Storm Damage, the charge of Emirati conditioner Saeed bin Suroor, finished third, 3.25 lengths behind Bathrat Leon.

The Bhupat Simar-saddled Secret Ambition, who had finished ahead of Golden Goal last year, was unable to replicate that form and finished a poor 11th.

Al Nefud, also trained by Bhupat, had a race to forget, and finished last of the 16 runners.

It was an incredible run from Bathrat Leon, under Ryusei Sakai, considering it was only his second run on dirt from 13 starts, with this being his third victory.

"He's a good strong front-runner and we know the bends well, so he got a good start and he pushed, and he was able to keep it up to the line. We got our tactics right," said Yahagi.

While jockey Sakai said: “The plan was to go forward and just go quick. Everything worked out and the horse kept going. I think he preferred the dirt surface here more than in Japan. Mr Yahagi is one of the best trainers in the world. It’s a great result.

“This was my dream and dreams come true. He (was expected) to run a good race in the last three days. His concentration is very good. I got the lead easily. He was travelling very well. I still wasn’t very confident because you have American horses in behind who have speed and are very good,” added Sakai, who has been riding for Yahagi for seven years now, since he started as an apprentice.

Secret Ambition’s jockey Antonio Fresu, who has had a busy week in the run-up to the Dubai World Cup, revealed that the nine-year-old from Exceed And Excel, had a bad start and couldn’t recover from that.

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“He stumbled at the start and got squeezed. He didn’t want to go after that. He needs to lead, be up there,” said Fresu.

Record nine-time UAE Champion Jockey Tadhg O’Shea, who rode Al Nefud, said: “He has finished lame."

The race began with Snapper Sinclair breaking well with Storm Damage close on his heels. Storm Damage held the lead, albeit briefly, as Bathrat Leon surged in front.

Soon, Bathrat Leon held it together with Storm Damage and Bankit jostled for position. Bathrat Leon held on to the pole position as Desert Wisdom, the ride of Adrie de Vries, kept Storm Damage at bay to come second.

james@khaleejtimes.com


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