Soumillon Cruises to Group 2 Double at Meydan

Vercingetorix proved far too good for five rivals

Vercingetorix lands a seventh Al Rashidiya for trainer Mike de Kock under Christophe Soumillon (Pic: Dubai Racing Club // Andrew Watkins)

Vercingetorix lands a seventh Al Rashidiya for trainer Mike de Kock under Christophe Soumillon
(Pic: Dubai Racing Club // Andrew Watkins)

Christophe Soumillon was in the Meydan winner’s enclosure for both the Cape Verdi and the Al Rashidiya on Thursday after landing a Group 2 double in the Dubai World Cup Carnival.

Vercingetorix proved far too good for five rivals in the 1800m Al Rashidiya and provided, trainer Mike de Kock with a fourth consecutive winner and seventh overall.

Also for the fourth year running, Christophe Soumillon rode the winner of a race won in the past by subsequent Group 1 Dubai Duty Free winners Right Approach (who dead-heated in the Dubai World Cup night feature for De Kock in 2004) and the Luca Cumani-trained Presvis in 2011.

Soumillon never looked worried and eased his mount to the front about 200m out with the pair always going to prevail.

“He is in great shape this year,” said Soumillon. “He was a really good horse last year but he felt better tonight. He is exciting.”

De Kock added: “As well as he did last year we were always trying to catch up with him as he did not travel well from South Africa.

“It is hard to know just how good he might be as he does the minimum in work at home and saves it for the track.

“He is undoubtedly a serious horse though.”

The other Group Two, the Cape Verdi, over 1600m and restricted to fillies and mares, was won comprehensively by Cladocera, representing the combination of trainer, Alain De Royer-Dupre and jockey Soumillon that also won the race in 2007 with Sanaya.

Belgian Soumillon has probably never been accused of lacking confidence and visually oozed it throughout, holding his mount up well off the pace but always looking happy.

A quick squeeze from the saddle and a shake of the reins halfway down the straight settled the matter in a few strides.

“She is a nice filly,” said the trainer. “We will bring her back in a few weeks but the targets have to be the real big races. Super Saturday and Dubai World Cup night are hopefully her main targets.

“She will improve as she matures and did not enjoy a lot of luck in Europe so to get this win is perfect and we hope she can progress. Soumillon said he was always happy so hopefully she can build on this.”

The meeting opened with a 1900m dirt handicap and the Saeed bin Suroor-trained I’m Back was the comfortable winner under James Doyle. The pair led virtually all the way with the horse recording a second consecutive course and distance victory having won under identical circumstances three weeks earlier.

“We knew he was in good form and expected a big run,” said Bin Suroor. “He clearly relishes this new dirt surface and seems to be improving. We will try and find another race for him.

“We think he will stay further but also could drop him back in trip so well does he travel.”

Doyle added: “I did not ride him last time when he surprised us somewhat but that was a good effort and he is going the right way.”

The first of the turf races was a 1000m handicap which provided the perfect opportunity for the Charlie Appleby-trained Ahtoug to bounce back to winning ways and complete a rapid double for Doyle.

Held up off the early speed, he was asked for an effort just under halfway, running on strongly to lead in the dying strides and deny raider Lancelot Du Lac, a first UAE runner for trainer Dean Ivory.

“We knew he had come on a lot for his first run,” said Appleby. “He was a great second in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint on World Cup night last year and, hopefully, that is his main target again.

“That is the aim anyway, probably via Super Saturday and possibly another run in the interim.”

Doyle would complete a treble, and a double for Godolphin and Bin Suroor, with the smooth success of Hunter’s Light in the concluding 2000m turf handicap.

Richard Hughes

Richard Hughes – good win after break

The non Dubai World Cup Carnival race on the card was a 1600m handicap and UK Champion Jockey, Richard Hughes, returning to racecourse action after his winter break, was seen at his best on One Man Band.

Riding for Doug Watson, who trained a double on the night, Hughes jumped his mount out in front and they were never headed, despite the persistent challenge of Filfil in the final 300m.

The latter, ridden by Richard Mullen for Satish Seemar, looked the likely winner throughout the closing stages but Watson’s charge was not to be denied.

“It was a gallant effort from the horse,” said Hughes. “He has almost waited for the other horse before running on again. There could be more to come from him.

“It is hard work when you have been out of the saddle for a while.”

It was to be a great evening for trainer Watson who later saddled Muaanid to land a 1400m dirt handicap with Paul Hanagan in the saddle for his main employer, HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

“It was a new trip here for the horse,” said Hanagan. “However he had run, well, over further in Ireland. It was a bit of a concern coming into the race but I was soon happy.

“He has speed, but probably not that sprinting early pace, so this could be his ideal kind of trip.”

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