The World Watches

SA Success at Dubai World Cup 2013


Shea Shea

Sound Barrier. Shea Shea soars home to break the course record and win the Gr1 Al Quoz Sprint

South African horseracing’s ambassador of excellence Mike De Kock got the world to sit up and take notice again on the occasion of the 18th Dubai World Cup on Saturday evening at Meydan.

The best advertisement in the world could not speak louder than two SA breds winning in front of 60 000 people in the fabulous grandstand. Not to mention a television audience of 1 billion people globally! The sums associated with this astonishingly professional race-day continue to boggle the mind.

Big Numbers

One billion peope! That’s a big number and besides the slick organisation, dazzling television and the excitement generated by the show overall, the 27,25 million US dollars prize money for horseracing’s richest event is almost lost in the dizziness of excitement and the thrill of great horses and horsemen. The Highlands Stud bred son of National Assembly Soft Falling Rain made it a magnificent 7 from 7 as he powered to victory from a ridiculous draw in the $1 million Godolphin Mile (UAE-II).

Paul Hanagan rode a cracker from the wide draw out of post 13, and the colt raced six-wide while well off the early pace before a furious stretch rally to overhaul Haatheq at the 100-meter mark. He surged powerfully nearing the finish line to prevail by three-quarters of a length under jockey Paul Hanagan, taking his perfect record to seven wins from as many starts.

The Godolphin Mile was the first Thoroughbred race on the Dubai World Cup card. “I haven’t see too many horses under pressure that early and still keep finding in the stretch,” de Kock said of Soft Falling Rain’s impressive win. “Turning for home I would have been happy to be second, but the horse dug in and fought all the way.”

“He gives his all; he’s so genuine,” Hanagan said of Soft Falling Rain, who was timed in 1:39.97 for the metric mile on the all-weather surface in his first start against older runners.

Soft Falling Rain, a National Assembly colt out of Gardener’s Delight, by Giant’s Causeway, will head to England to be prepared for racing at Royal Ascot in June. De Kock said he believes the mile trip is the limit for Soft Falling Rain.

Very Fast

De Kock then stepped forward to produce the brilliantly fast National Emblem gelding Shea Shea to a course record-setting victory in the $1 million Gr1 Al Quoz Sprint. In a stunning display of brilliant acceleration, the National Emblem gelding flew past 10-year-old Joy And Fun in the closing stages to win the turf event by three-quarters of length under Christophe Soumillon. Eagle Regiment finished third, another three-quarters of a length back.

Shea Shea came into the race having won the Meydan Sprint by 2 1/2 lengths from Sole Power while lowering the course standard for 1,000 meters (about five furlongs) to :57.02 on the March 9 Super Saturday card. He smashed his own record for the distance in the Al Quoz Sprint when bursting clear late to win in :56.41.

“I’m not surprised to win a race like this after his last run because that race was as good as this one,” Soumillon said after the Al Quoz Sprint. “I was confident. He likes to come late and catch them on the line and it worked out perfectly.”

A multiple Gr1 winner in South Africa, Shea Shea will be aimed at the King’s Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.

Shea Shea is owned by Brian Joffe and Myron Berzack, and was bred by Klawervlei Stud out of the stakes-winning Jallad mare Yankee Clipper. The latter was trained and part owned by Cape Champion trainer Joey Ramsden, and it was pleasing to see a ‘nervous’ John Koster making the trip.


In another link to South African racing, Team Valor’s Barry Irwin, who has raced top horses in this country, broke the America drought in the Dubai World Cup when his champion Animal Kingdom burst clear in the home run for a spectacular win in the world’s richest race.

Joel Rosario rode the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner to a two-length triumph in the Emirates Airline-sponsored $10 million event for trainer Graham Motion and joint owners Arrowfield Stud and Team Valor International. Australia’s Arrowfield Stud purchased a majority interest in the son of Leroides-animaux, three months ago.

Animal Kingdom is to begin his stud career later this year in Australia. Team Valor, which retained a minor interest following the sale, bred Animal Kingdom in Kentucky. He is out of the German mare Dalicia, by Acatenango.

Great Win

“Turning for home, he was looking around,” said Rosario after his first win in Dubai. “I was hoping I had enough horse left because it’s a long stretch.”

Animal Kingdom won his first stakes race since the Kentucky Derby, which he won by over two lengths. He earned an Eclipse Award in 2011 as the nation’s champion 3-year-old male.

The winning time in the World Cup was 2:03.22 as Planteur came on for third for the second year in a row, 4 lengths behind Red Cadeaux. Side Glance was fourth.

“This horse has had some kind of saga, up-down, up-down,” said an emotional Irwin. “We all knew he had a race like this in him. We saw it in the Derby, we almost saw it in the (2013) Breeders’ Cup (Mile). This was it.”

Motion added: “When this horse got hurt a year ago, Barry said, ‘Let’s aim for the World Cup in 2013.’ I thought he was crazy.” Irwin responded, “I thought the same when he (Motion) wanted to go in the Breeders’ Cup Mile. It’s a dead-heat on who’s crazier.

“Credit to the jock (Rosario),” Irwin added. “As bonehead a ride he gave him last time, he was brilliant today.” At the time of his sale, his connections said Animal Kingdom would be flown from Dubai to England and considered for a possible start at Royal Ascot in June prior to being retired.

Animal Kingdom has now won five of 11 lifetime starts with five runner-up finishes. His only unplaced run came in a sixth-place effort in the 2011 Gr1 Belmont Stakes on a wet track. Saturday’s win, worth about $6 million, took Animal Kingdom’s career earnings to $8,399,884.


Soft Falling Rain

Gallant win. Soft Falling Rain storms clear to win the Gr2 Godolphin Mile

The royal Godolphin stables, owned by Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, overcame the disappointment of having to withdraw last year’s big race winner Monterosso due to a lame left foot. The ruling family Al-Maktoum won three of the nine races on the day.

As already mentioned, Mike De Kock’s Soft Falling Rain, owned by Dubai’s deputy ruler and minister of finance Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, won the Gr2 Godolphin Mile and 1 million US dollars worth of prize money. Then Godolphin’s Cavalry-man from Ireland and jockey Silvestre De Sousa won the 1 million US dollar 3200m Dubai Gold Cup.

The UK based Shajha with jockey Silvestre de Sousa up was victorious in the 5 million US dollars 1800m Dubai Duty Free, to round off a good day.

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