Dubai World Cup: Dettori gave Country Grammer a fuel-conserving ride, says Doyle

The finale gave Frankie Dettori on Country Grammer a fourth win in the most prestigious of Dubai races

By Jacquie Doyle

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Frankie Dettori rides Country Grammer to victory in the Dubai World Cup. (Photo by M. Sajjad)
Frankie Dettori rides Country Grammer to victory in the Dubai World Cup. (Photo by M. Sajjad)

Published: Mon 28 Mar 2022, 9:06 PM

What an incredible night of horse racing we witnessed on Saturday evening at Meydan. Never before had we seen such results and a night without a Godolphin winner.

Examine, if you will, the high-class Godolphin runners that were present. Saeed bin Suroor had nine horses and hit the board twice, with Storm Damage and Island Falcon finishing third in their respective races and Japan standing on the winner’s podium each time.

Charlie Appleby fielded a five-horse team and appeared unfortunate not to pick up at least one first prize. Manobos’ huge frame looked sure to get past Japan’s Stay Foolish in the Gold Cup but he was still half a length adrift at the wire.

Man of Promise and Naval Crown (who looked superb in the parade ring) finished third and fourth in the Al Quoz Sprint, running stormers but not being good enough to outshine the Ado McGuinness-trained A Case Of You from Ireland.

No one could begrudge the wonderfully named, humble Irishman his time in the spotlight.

Appleby’s Yibir looked set to back up his Breeders’ Cup triumph as he flew down the outside of the field in the Sheema Classic but again Godolphin were denied the top spot, barely a neck separating Yibir from Japan’s Shahryar.

Earlier in the evening, the Dubai Kahayla Classic went to the Qatar-trained and aptly named First Classs, a US-bred Arabian, getting up by a head in a terrific dual with Ahmed Al Merhairbi trainee, Kerless Del Roc and Pat Cosgrave.

The Godolphin Mile showcased the first Japanese winner of the evening, Bathrat Leon (strange name!) slicing home under young Ryusei Sakai.

That first shot fired at Meydan was a stark warning of what was to come, particularly as Yoshito Yahagi had been very low-key speaking of this horse in one of the pre-event press conferences.

But Yahagi promptly secured the very next contest, with Christoph Lemair, a star of the Saudi Cup meeting, hoofing Stay Foolish to a one-length victory over the giant Manobo and William Buick.

Yahagi has high expectations of his winner suggesting the Royal Ascot Gold Cup, The Arc de Triomphe and the Melbourne Cup as potential future options.

The torch was then handed to another Japanese combination for the UAE Derby in which Bob Baffert’s much-touted Pinehurst ran as his previous weeks’ breeze had suggested he would, poorly.

Crown Pride with Australian rider Damian Lane proved too good for Bhuphat Seemar’s Summer Is Tomorrow.

We finally claimed our first locally trained winner in the Golden Shaheen with a hugely deserved win for champion jockey elect Tadhg O’Shea who gave Switzerland the ride of the night to beat no other than a Japanese-trained runner, Red Le Zele. Standing on the winner’s podium with his two sons and wife Debbie watching on, the O’Shea’s were the proudest family in Dubai with Bhuphat and Caroline Seemar a close second to them.

Every Seemar horse at Meydan that night looked in exceptionally superb condition making it easy to see why he is about to be crowned Champion Trainer.

John Gosden’s sterling and handsome Lord North almost kept the invincible Yushito Yahagi from the winners’ circle by dead heating with Panthalssa in the Dubai Turf with Vin de Garde (again from Japan) just a nose (about 4 pixels) in third.

On paper, this race had the appearance of the most competitive of the night and so it proved with a dynamic finish that took some considerable time for the photo finish judge to decipher.

The finale gave Frankie Dettori on Country Grammer a fourth win in the most prestigious of Dubai races. At 51, his riding ability is still perfect and while I don’t care for his pre and post-race skylarking I do appreciate his great skills once sat in the saddle.

Life is Good paid the price for his speed upfront on what was a slower track than we sometimes see, while Hot Rod Charlie never looked comfortable and struggled to hold his position albeit recovering with tremendous resilience to run on for second.

Chuwa Wizard had looked well out of it but came to pick up the pieces in third.

It is my opinion here that Country Grammer was given the most economical, fuel-conserving ride by Dettori thus enabling him to have sufficient gas left in the reserve tank for the finish in the gruelling contest.

The wonderful evening closed out with an incredibly well-choreographed drone show, splendid fireworks and a superb concert featuring British pop star Becky Hill.

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