Japanese filly out to make World Cup history

DUBAI - Japanese filly Red Desire can make racing history here on Saturday and become the first of the fairer sex to land the world’s richest race, the 10million US dollars Dubai World Cup.

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Published: Thu 25 Mar 2010, 1:29 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 5:25 AM

The four-year-old will be ridden by crack Belgian-born rider Christophe Soumillon at the magnificent Meydan track where the stand runs the whole length of the straight.

She has had an ideal preparation for the race including a defeat of last year’s Dubai World Cup runner-up, French-trained Brazilian bred Gloria De Campeao.

Certainly Red Desire’s connections are over the moon with the filly - who is attempting to go one better than compatriot To The Victory in 2001.

“She really pleased me in her work on Tuesday,” said trainer Mikio Matsunaga, who has seen her win over 2million pounds in prizemoney.

“Her initial plan was to run in the Dubai Sheema Classic but as she won her prep race (the Group Two Al Maktoum Challenge) easily we changed our target with the owner deciding to let her take her chances in the Dubai World Cup.”

Whilst the race is being run at this magnificent new arena - it was run in its previous 14 editions at Nad Al-Sheba - and for the incredible prizemoney on offer Red Desire’s chances are immeasurably better because it has attracted a largely B list of participants.

The exceptions to that among the 14 runners are two European challengers France’s Vision D’Etat - trained by Eric Libaud - and England’s Twice Over, trained by legend Henry Cecil.

Vision D’Etat, whose handler Libaud has established himself as one of France’s leading trainers even though he is based outside the training centre of Chantilly, has rarely disappointed.

He picked up the French Derby in 2008, and two Group Ones in 2009 at Royal Ascot in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes and the Hong Kong Cup in December.

Libaud, whose English wife Vicky along with Jacques Detre laid out a relatively small sum of 39,000 euros for the colt whi has amassed over 800,000 pounds in prizemoney and in eight starts finished outside the first three only once, professed himself to be content with his stable star’s condition.

“He has gained in strength and power and appears to me today to be in the same type of form he was in before Hong Kong. He might even have put on a few pounds.

“This race represents a good challenge for him.”

Twice Over is also a classy sort having landed the English Champion Stakes last year and followed up with a highly commendable third behind the remarkable Zenyatta in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Owner Prince Khalid Abdullah’s racing manager Teddy Grimthorpe said that his run on dirt at Santa Anita last November had encouraged them that he could do something in Dubai.

“The idea of taking him to Santa Anita was to see if he would be good enough in a Group 1 race on an artificial surface, with Dubai in mind,” said Grimthorpe.

“I can’t say the Breeders’ Cup was a prep race for the World Cup, but now we know what he can do. If he hadn’t acted on the surface, we could have taken another route.

“So far it’s all going according to plan.”

Dubai’s challenge is centred on the Godolphin Operation’s Mastery, who will be ridden by Frankie Dettori.

A tough sort he gave Godolphin a welcome win in the English St Leger last year - their first British Classic since 2004 - to add to his Italian Derby victory and Dettori is full of beans about his chances.

“He’s hard as nails,” said the charismatic Italian, who wasn’t even on him at the St Leger as he had opted for another Godophin entry.

“He’s so versatile and not just a mile and six horse, after all he won the Italian Derby over a mile and three.”

The World Cup is the centrepiece of a card featuring prize money on offer of over 26 million dollars.

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