Dubai: Belgian ace Christophe Soumillon pulled off an improbable victory in the $1 million Dubai Gold Cup, the longest race at the Dubai World Cup meeting at two miles, when he delivered French-trained Vazirabad from a mile behind to deny Godolphin’s Beautiful Romance.
Vazirabad also claimed a slice of racing history at the meeting when he became the first horse to land back-to-back renewals of the Dubai Gold Cup, sponsored by Al Tayer Motors.
Trained by the master tactician Alain De Royer-Dupre in Chantilly, France, the five-year-old scored by a neck from Beautiful Romance, ridden by Oisin Murphy for Emirati handler Saeed Bin Surour.
Sheikhzayedroad, trained by David Simcock and ridden by Martin Hayley was a length and quarter back in third with Big Orange, who led for most of the extended trip under big-race jockey Frankie Dettori, finished fourth, half a length further back. Beautiful Romance had beaten Vazirabad and Sheikhzayedroad in the prep race, the Nad Al Sheba Trophy, last month.
The first three home franked the international betting markets, who had them in the same order in the pecking order.
Big Orange led the field into the home stretch but Murphy and Beautiful Romance were close on his heels. Beautiful Romance soon took over the running and it looked like Bin Surour would be taking home a second Gold Cup after Cavalryman in 2013. But the New Approach filly was running out of steam as Vazirabad swopped late to get the nod.
“The ground is a little bit soft, which is good for him and Soumillon was very good,” said Royer-Dupre.
“Every time he races he gets better and because of this I was confident of a good effort from him.
“He likes to come from the back and Christophe took his time and picked them off one by one.
“He’s a good horse with a great jockey and I think his main target this year will be the new Group One at Goodwood (Goodwood Cup), but we will also think about the Gold Cup (Ascot) as long as the ground is not too quick for him there.”
After Vazirabad’s antics in the gates, Soumillon, who was notching an eight winner at the meeting, said: “He did not pull like last time, he was off the bridle and I was not sure if he was hurt.
“Then he picked up. The horse likes to have a target in front of him so I dropped him to the rail behind Beautiful Romance to make him feel that he had a target.”
Murphy said of Beautiful Romance: “The race wasn’t run to plan as they went slowly early on, but I was very happy turning in as she was all set to go from the front but we were run down by the favourite.
“I think she’s an improving filly and I was delighted to be able to keep the ride and it’s great to be wearing the (Godolphin) colours.”
Bin Surour was delighted with Beautiful Romance’s effort and said: “You can’t be disappointed with that run. He gave it his all.
“We were beaten by a very good horse, perhaps one of the best stayers in Europe, but we’re far from disappointed. You can’t be with a performance like that.
Harley said of Sheikhzayedroad: “I was a little bit unlucky, he travelled good, was nice and relaxed all the way and I thought there was plenty of room up the straight, but I was slightly hemmed in by Christophe’s horse and without that I might have been second.
“But I would not have beaten the winner.”