‘Meydan tough for Americans,’ Shaikh Hamdan

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‘Meydan tough for Americans,’ Shaikh Hamdan

Shaikh Hamdan reckons that the new dirt track may not suit California Chrome

By Hisham Al Gizouli (chief Reporter)

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Published: Fri 20 Mar 2015, 1:41 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jun 2015, 8:34 PM

Shaikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum visiting the 12th Dubai International Arabian Horse Championship at the World trade Centre in Dubai on Thursday. — KT photo by Mukesh Kamal

Leading international horse breeder and owner Shaikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance, doesn’t see the American contender California Chrome winning the 20th running of the $10m Dubai World Cup Group 1, which will be held at the Meydan March 28.

“It’s true that we are back to the dirt races, but this does not mean that all ‘dirt’ horses can handle the new surface at Meydan in the same efficiency as they do in Santa Anita and Churchill Downs,” Shaikh Hamdan told Khaleej Times after inaugurating the Dubai International Arabian Horse Championship and the Dubai International Horse Fair at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre on Thursday morning.

“California Chrome is a very good horse and there’s no doubt about that, but the new dirt track at Meydan is not very similar to the American ones. But, if this race was to be staged on the previous Nad Al Sheba surface, I would have said that the American horses would be difficult to beat. The underfoot here is stiffer and the American horses are not accustomed to it,” he added. “I believe only the Godolphin pair (African Story & Prince Bishop) and the Japanese runner (Hokko Tarumae) are the front runners for the trophy,” he predicted.

The UAE have won the World Cup races nine times in 1997, 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2012 and 20142 while the Americans have prevailed in eight outings in 1996, 1998, 2001, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009 and 2013 while Japan has won it in 2011 and Brazil in 2010.

Speaking about the reasons for redirecting his runner Tamarkuz to the $1m Godolphin Mile Gr-2 instead of the main race, Shaikh Hamdan said it is far better for the horse to lineup for a race which he could win rather than take part in a competition which is beyond his potentials.

“Tamarkuz is a miler, and the extra two furlongs of the big race is beyond his stamina,” he noted. “The trainer (Musabah Al Muhairi) told me that he will stay the extra distance, but I don’t agree with him. I have told him that my horse is a front runner and won’t go beyond the mile distance, and told Al Muhairi that with a change in the tactics, Tamrkuz could be sent for the main race on the 2016 World Cup night,” he confirmed.

Regarding the chances of his horse Versac PY in the $1m Dubai Kahyala Classic Gr-1, the only Arabian contest on the nine-race card, Shaikh Hamdan said it’s a tough race and a better horse will win.

“Versac PY has won the third leg of the Al Maktoum Purebred Arabians Challenge Gr-1 against lightweight opponents and I believe that he needs to improve by four or five lengths on that form to win the race. The Dubai Kahayla field has attracted strong opponents and the competition is not going to be that easy,” he said.

Speaking about the current edition of the Dubai International Arabian Horse Championships and the Dubai International Horse Fair, Shaikh Hamdan said they have grown better thanks to the support of His Highness Shaikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

“The numbers of participants are 20 per cent less than last year, but the quality of the horses has increased by more than that ratio and this is what matters,” he said. “The increasing numbers of one-year-olds is a good sign of progress. People are acquiring more Arabians at this early age,” he added.

Shaikh Hamdan also thanked the organisers of the Dubai International Horse Fair for the great success they have been achieving. He pointed out that they have requested an increase in space and the number of days.

The Dubai International Arabian Horse Championship is a competition for Purebred Arabian horses, showcasing their beauty, agility & heritage. It is run over 3 days culminating in the Championship classes for the most exquisite horses.

Staged under the patronage of Shaikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Championship will run for the 12th time from March 19 to 21, 2015 at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre. The Dubai International Arabian Horse Championship is the most prestigious competition of its kind in the world. It is a beauty competition for Purebred Arabian horses, from the very young to the elderly statesmen of the Arabian equine world.

hisham@khaleejtimes.com 



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