Monterosso rides to victory for Mahmood Al Zarooni
It was hard to tell who was the most excited between the Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, and France-based jockey Mickael Barzalona when Monterosso won the Group 1 $US10 million World Cup, sponsored by Emirates Airline at Meydan on Saturday night.
Barzalona stood high in the saddle with his arm even higher as Monterosso hit the line well clear of stablemate Capponi giving His Highness Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin stable the top two finishers in the world’s richest race.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum was jubilant as he hugged the person nearest to him as Monterosso avenged his unlucky third in the race last year.
The former Australian star So You Think, now with the Coolmore team, finished fourth after racing near the lead throughout but it was Godolphin again dominating the race as they have done five times before in the 17-year history of the race.
Despite having had success in feature races all around the racing world over the past 20 years, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed never tires of winning his own race.
By contrast, Barzalona, 20, born in Corsica and based in France is rapidly carving his own name in racing history. He will soon join the Godolphin stable at Newmarket in England as a retained jockey.
“I couldn’t believe it when no one was coming after me (in the straight),” Barzalona said. “This is a dream. I have no words to describe what I feel right now. “
Asked about his dramatic celebration on the line, he said: “I just had to, I had no choice.”
While Godolphin’s previous Dubai World Cup winners were prepared by Saeed bin Suroor, Monterosso and Capponi gave their Dubai based trainer Mahmoud Al Zarooni his biggest success.
Monterosso powered away in the run home to beat Capponi, ridden by Ahmed Ajtebi by three lengths with Planteur, trained in England by Italian Marco Botti a half-length away third. Botti said jockey Ryan Moore had told him Planteur should have finished closer.
“Ryan said he got a bump at the start and was further back than he wanted to be.”
Not far from the placegetters was Zazou and jockey Olivier Peslier said he had his chance.
‘’I have no complaints.”
Atjebi was also full of praise for Capponi.
“It was a great effort. I was confident he would finish in the first three and he ran up to his best. I beat the winner the last time we met but obviously he’s improved and he ran third in this race last year, so it’s great for the team. My horse has come from handicaps to running second in the Dubai World Cup. So I’m delighted with that.”
Godolphin also had Prince Bishop and Mendip in the race but it was left to Monterossa and Capponi to steal the show by putting the pressure on hot favourite So You Think from the 600m..
So You Think finished a half-length away fourth and his rider Joseph O’Brien said he just could not quicken on a surface that was too dead for him.
The highly rated Japanese contender Eishen Flash finished sixth without ever looking likely to get into the finish. Jockey Christophe Lemaire said: “He was nervous in the gate and didn’t start well, but he got a rhythm and ran well during the trip but I was too far back in the trip.”
Equally disappointing was the US mare Royal Delta but jockey Jose Lezcano said there were excuses for her. “We had a good position but in the middle of the turn the horse in front of me quit so I had to wait a little longer than I wanted to. She gave me a good run at the end but this surface (all-weather) is a little different – it’s a little sticky.”
Centre of attention before the race was the leading US woman jockey Chantal Sutherland who rode Game On Dude who wound up 12th. Sutherland claimed her mount was a victim of circumstances.
“It was a good trip considering everything that happened. The horse next to him was acting up in the gate, so he thought they were going to break (start) At home we break quicker, so he went to go forward and then he sat down. He just got a little frazzled after not breaking so great. Then he relaxed. He was good on the backside, he just wanted to get into his rhythm. So I did what I always do and let him try to get there and I waited. The track is very tiring.”