Dubai: Highly-regarded French handler Alain de Royer-Dupre described his classy stayer Vazirabad as being ‘very special’ after the four-year-old swooped late to snatch victory from British hope Big Orange in the $1 million (Dh3.67 million) Dubai Gold Cup (Group 1), the longest race on the card at a distance of 3.200 metres on Saturday.
Winner of the Group 1 Prix Royal-Oak at Saint-Cloud, France, in October, Christophe Soumillon’s mount demonstrated when he is regarded as one of the best stayers in Europe when delivering a breathtaking run in the closing stages of the race to score by a neck.
This was a sixth straight win for Vazirabad, a son of German stallion Monduro, and Royer-Dupre’s second big win at the Dubai World Cup meeting following Dolniya’s triumph in the $6 million Dubai Sheema Classic 12 months ago.
Royer-Dupre said: “They went quick and I knew he would be at the back.
“But his main quality is that he has a really big turn of foot and we were not afraid to use it. He was a little bit tired at the end, perhaps he came too early, but I’m not sure.
“I don’t know if we’ll stay at long distances, perhaps we will drop him back to 2,400 metres. He could go for the Grand Prix de Saint Cloud (Group 1, 2,440m) as I know he is very special.”
Soumillon, who was doing the steering when Dolniya won last year, opted to sit a long way off the pace being made by 2014 shock Gold Cup winner Certerach.
Jamie Spencer went for home aboard Big Orange with two furlongs to run, but Vazirabad was closing the gap with every stride under a confident Soumillon. The two fought out the final furlong and while Soumillon appeared to be gaining the upper hand Big Orange battled back for Spencer only to lose out in the final strides.
The Richard Fahey-trained Suegioo finished strongly only to be beaten in a photo-finish for third by Saeed Bin Surour’s Haafaguinea.
Michael Bell, who has campaigned Big Orange in all the top staying races around the world, including the Group 1 A$6million Melbourne Cup, was full of praise for his charge and said: “The winner is very good but he had to pull out all the stops to beat us. I’m really proud of him, it was a very good effort.
“We’ll make plans when we get back that set’s him up nicely for the rest of the year.
Spencer added: “I had a perfect trip and the horse has given us his all. No complaints, we were beaten by a good horse.”
James Doyle was full of praise for Godolphin’s Haafaguinea. “It was a monster effort. He had a smooth trip and I’m absolutely delighted with him.”
Former British footballer Michael Owen, who took home the trophy twelve months ago, saw his wishes come true when he posted on his twitter account, @themichaelowen. “A year today since Brown Panther demolished the field in the Dubai Gold Cup. Let’s hope a European horse leads them home this time.’
Vazirabad was stretching Europe’s domination of the race to three wins following Certerach in 2014 and record-setting Brown Panther last season.
Owen’s stable flag-bearer set a course record of 03:18.84 seconds when landing the prize for Richard Kingscote aboard the Tom Dascombe-trained horse.