Dubai: When Tamarkuz missed the break, the average racegoer could have been forgiven for thinking that the race for Godolphin Mile was over for the favourite, but this horse was made of sterner stuff and under his ice cool jockey, he just did not panic on Saturday.
As Free Wheeling next to him jumped electrically out of the barriers and another big fancy in Frankfourfingers took it up, they set electric early fractions cutting out the pace. Paul Hanagan slowly let his horse come into the race riding with ice in his veins.
Dark Emerald also briefly challenged for the lead but coming into the final turn, Frankyfourfingers burst clear under previous world cup winning jockey Mickael Barzelona and the race looked all but over.
His opposition had not given up and the four horses behind him slowly closed in on him and swamped him inside the final furlong. Tamarkuz had hit his stride and was accelerating and soon hit the lead, but his work was not completely done as Frankie Dettori on Sloane Avenue challenged and briefly got level.
UAE’s champion trainer Musabah Al Muhairi’s charge Tamarkuz showed the fighting qualities as he repelled off the persistent challenge of Sloane Avenue and Free Wheeling to become the Godolphin Mile champion.
A triumphant Hanagan said: “You’ve got to remember for these horses, it’s such a big day for them to take in. It’s so hot he’s been running in the evening I think just the whole occasion may have just got to him, but he dug so deep for me toward the end there. He really was a really genuine, very good horse.”
Even though the crowd were sure of the result, it was not so clear on the track. Asked if he knew he had won, Hanagan commented: “The whole occasion got to him but he dug in so deeply. I didn’t know whether I’d won but when Frankie (Dettori) said, ‘Well done’ it made me feel good.”
Owner Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, commented: “He was my big hope today, but he lost six lengths at the start and did not come out of the stalls and he did well to win.”
Angus Gold, Shaikh Hamdan’s Racing Manager added: “I really admired him just watching the replay, obviously out of the gates I thought ‘oh no that’s it’ but there was a new dimension to him - the last furlong and-a-half he really wanted it, he had his head down doing his best. As Paul said, it was a bit of a different day - with a lot going on he got a bit over-excited.
(With inputs from Alaric Gomes, Senior Reporter and Ashley Hammond, Staff Reporter)