Dubai: A scintillating performance from Mendelssohn saw him sweeping his rivals in the UAE Derby in a third track record of the night in 1.55.18 seconds on Saturday. In reality, the clock was the only opposition as the official distance of his victory was eighteen-and-a-half lengths in the biggest winning margin in the UAE Derby so far.
The Coolemore team now look to have a real prospect to finally deliver a victory in the Kentucky Derby which they are now qualified for.
When the gates flew open, the filly Rayya in Gate 1 broke quickly and Ryan Moore riding Mendelssohn also did and he looked like he would have to trail the mare but he kept his scorching start up until he managed to get the lead off her. Yulong Warrior also made a bold bid for the lead but Mendelsson had too much pace.
Abdullah Mohammad Juma Al Naboodah, Chairman, Saeed & Mohammad Al Naboodah Holding LLC, and Hamad Abdullah Mohammad Juma Al Naboodah, Vice-Chairman, Al Naboodah Commercial Group LLC, handing over the owner’s trophy to Paul Smith, M.V Magnier and Emily Magnier after Mendelssohn won the UAE Derby at Meydan. Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
From there on, he took the field along and extended them as he slowly wound up. With 600 metres to go, he was six lengths clear with Rayya still in second and she stuck on well to the line where she was very much best of the rest as Moore pushed his son of Scat Daddy right out to the line. Aiden O’Brien is a master trainer and once again proved it here and it would be foolish to underestimate this horse’s prospects in the Kentucky.
US challenger Reride ran on strongly for third place and Gold Town finished a weary fourth for Godolphin. Runner-up Rayya might also head for Kentucky for the Kentucky Oaks.
Trainer Aidan O’Brien receives the trainer’s trophy along with his daughter Ana O’Brien. Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
Aidan O’Brien said: “Absolutely delighted, I couldn’t be happier. He travelled well and quick and we are over the moon. He had a lot of natural speed, absolutely delighted.”
All roads to Kentucky? “Yeah well hopefully the lads will think what to do but it looks like the obvious thing, so delighted.”
Jockey Ryan Moore receives the trophy for his winning effort. Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News
Strongest ever challenger? “I think so he’s a very exciting horse so hopefully.”
Moore said on his way back to the paddock: “He is a high class horse, he is a Breeders Cup Juvenile winner and he ran second in the Dewhurst (Newmarket GB), he has now done it on the dirt and you have to go a long way to see a better performance than that. There still feels like there is more physical improvement in him, he is going to get better.”
“He can do well in both (dirt and turf) and that’s why he is one of the best horse in America. He is a champion in America at all ages. It took the dirt as duck to water thankfully. Hopefully, he can keep that form going,” said MV Magnier, son of the owners.
This was a stunning performance that really lit up Meydan and very much looks to have produced a live contender for the Kentucky Derby.
— With inputs from Ashley Hammond, Senior Reporter & N.D. Prashant, Staff Reporter