Thursday’s ninth meeting of the 2019 Dubai World Cup Carnival was highlighted by the Gr3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy sponsored by Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum City-District One, the key local prep for the $1.5 million Gr2 Dubai Gold Cup sponsored by Al Tayer Motors on Dubai World Cup night.
Two other Listed stakes, the Meydan Classic for 3-year-olds on turf and Curlin Handicap for dirt route aficionados, added to an exciting penultimate night of the international showcase.
Over 2810m on the turf, the Gr3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy appeared like Group 1 performer Brundtland’s race to lose, but the Charlie Appleby-trained Godolphin runner pulled up on the second turn.
At that point, stablemate Ispolini, partnered by Mickael Barzalona, looked like the most certain of winners. Circling and then powering clear with ease, the son of Dubawi left many onlookers thinking he would have won the race even if Brundtland had stayed in the running.
Godolphin filled out the top three, with the Saeed bin Suroor-trained duo of Red Galileo (Pat Cosgrave aboard), who led for a long way, and Bin Battuta (Christophe Soumillon)—who had beaten the winner in a turf handicap over 2410m on Jan. 3—finishing 10½ and 11½ lengths astern the much-the-best victor. The winner won for the second time over this course and distance and proved to be a leading contender for the 3200m Dubai Gold Cup on Mar. 30.
“He ran well last time and he showed a good turn-of-foot,” Barzalona said. “Today I had instructions to make him settle well in the first part of the race and then to see how it goes. He did it very well and he has been very impressive today. I could wait for ages, but he was going so much better than the others. I had to take him out and let him just relax and he enjoyed it. Last time he showed he could travel strongly and today the plan was just to make him relax, but he has got some speed as well. I think (the 3200m of the Dubai Gold Cup) is possible.”
“I always knew that stepping up in trip was going to open new doors for him and he showed that in his last start, his first one over this trip,” Appleby added. “We thought he was going the right way going into this evening. He was a horse we felt was going to be very competitive. Going forward, he could a potential horse for the Dubai Gold Cup on World Cup night. There are plans for him to potentially go to Australia, as well. We’ll make a decision over the next 24 hours on what we’re going to do. “
Cosgrave and Soumillon were pleased with their hard-knocking charges’ runs.
“He ran a top race,” Cosgrave said. “We tried to go a good gallop, to try and stretch them (the field). We found one too good in the end. He never runs a bad race. He’s tough and is always thereabouts. He always finds one too good unfortunately.”
Soumillon added: “I had a good run behind the favourite. Unfortunately, he came out of the race on the turn. At that point, I was going quite well and I thought he would finish one-two with Red Galileo, but when Mickael came to my outside (on Ispolini), I could see straight away that he would win. In the end, I think my horse would be better going shorter.”
Sweden’s Suspicious Mind, Zamaam and Pinzolo completed the order of finish. The final time was a solid 2:55.96.