Asiatic Boy’s Dubai World Cup hopes took a big dent as he could only manage third in the US$200,000 Group 3 Burj Nahaar, a race dominated by the Saeed bin Suroor-trained pair of Elusive Warning and Blackat Blackitten.
Last year’s UAE Triple Crown winner was hard at work halfway up the straight and in the end was three and a quarter lengths off the winner Elusive Warning, who was completing a double for Kerrin McEvoy.
Of Asiatic Boy, De Kock said: “In hindsight, we’ve left him short, which has caught us out a little. But we haven’t lost heart and we’re expecting massive improvement in the Dubai World Cup.”
His jockey Johnny Murtagh added: “I am disappointed, but better to do that tonight, than on March 29.”
Simon Crisford, racing manager to the winning owners Godolphin, described the result as a “surprise”, while McEvoy added: “I was expecting Asiatic Boy to come at us, but in the end it was Frankie’s horse (Blackat Blackitten) we had to see off, but he dug deep.”
British mare Gower Song sprung a surprise in the US$200,000 Group 3 Dubai City of Gold, bursting through late under Richard Hills to deny the fast finishing Mourilyan, who came from last, and Oracle West, who stayed on for third.
Winning trainer David Elsworth said: “The mile and half (2400m) really suited her, and with a clear run, she would have won comfortably. She’s thrived since she’s been here, and of course we’d like to run her in the Dubai Sheema Classic.”
The winner is set to face the second, third, and fifth home, Quijano, in the US$5mliion turf showpiece, sponsored by Nakheel, on March 29.
Mike De Kock saddled the 1-2 in the Al Bastakiya – the second leg of the UAE Triple Crown - as Royal Vintage saw off the late challenge of Honour Devil.
The winner, under Kevin Shea, was reversing placings with his stablemate in the 1800m contest, and, with the scores now between the pair standing at 1-1, the decider will come in the UAE Derby, sponsored by Saeed & Mohammed Al Naboodah Group, on Dubai World Cup night.
“We thought Royal Vintage might win this time, but Honour Devil showed great battling qualities,” said De Kock.
“But I wouldn’t be surprised if the placings were reversed again in the UAE Derby.”
Winning rider Kevin Shea added: “It’s equal now between the two, and we could be in for an almighty battle come Dubai World Cup night.”
Godolphin look to have a live contender for the Dubai Golden Shaheen, sponsored by Gulf News, in the shape of Diabolical, who trounced the opposition in the Mahab Al Shimaal.
The American import was drawn in stall one, but settled nicely under McEvoy, and coasted home four and a half lengths in front of Star Crowned, with New Freedom, purchased for AED2.3million at the DIRC Sale on Tuesday, back in third. Trainer Bin Suroor said: “It’s great we have something to run in the sprint on Dubai World Cup night – he needed the race last time, and he works like a really good horse in the morning.”
While McEvoy added: “He has improved from his first run, when he stumbled at the start, and there were no Asiatic Boys in this race and that put him spot on for this race.”
The Big G