Rocket Man blasts away

ROCKET Man blasted away and around the 1,200m Tapeta course to claim the honours from the first of the night’s four big races, the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen.

By Alex Leach

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Published: Sun 27 Mar 2011, 1:53 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 8:43 AM

The heavily-backed five-year-old gelding, representing South Africa, flew out of the stalls under jockey Felix Coetzee along with the Bob Baffert-trained Euroears — ridden by Mike Smith — to head the field from the outset.

There they would stay too as the remaining contenders, in the withdrawn absence of Kinsale King due to swelling in his off foreleg, struggled to cope with the early-race impetus established by the out-in-front duo.

As the leading pair turned in for home, there appeared little to separate them at one stage in a head-to-head battle for the line, with Euroears — if anything — perhaps holding a slight advantage.

But, Rocket Man fittingly turned on the turbo boosters with a late burst to ultimately deny his course companion in a time of 1:11.28s, with the Irish-bred Sunny King also showing a good turn of foot at the end to just keep Green Birdie back in fourth by a quarter of a length.

“I got a great start and I took him back to give Euroears the lead and tracked him,” Coetzee said. “I saw Mike Smith go for his horse (Euroears) and, when I picked up Rocket Man, he responded.

“He is so gutsy. It was a great feeling – like being in a top sports car. He was flying.” Rocket Man’s trainer, Patrick Shaw, added: “I was confident all week because I have never had him better. Winning on an international stage like Dubai is very special.

“I don’t know where to go next with Rocket Man. Royal Ascot want him in the summer. But, so do the Australians to take on Black Caviar, so we’ll see.”

Result: Race Five 7.05pm Thoroughbreds Dubai Golden Shaheen (Group-1) 1200m (a6f). Purse: $2,000,000: 1. Rocket Man (Patrick Shaw) Felix Coetzee. 2. Euroears (Bob Baffert) Mike Smith. 3. Sunny King (John Moore) Gerald Mosse. Distances: Two and a quarter lengths/Two and a half lengths.

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