Prince Bishop wins World Cup from hot favourite California Chrome

For the fifth time in six runnings since its moved to the immense Meydan racecourse in 2010, the Dubai World Cup produced an unexpected winner here as Prince Bishop, an eight-year-old trained by Saeed bin Suroor, strode nearly three lengths clear of California Chrome, last year’s Kentucky Derby winner, in the world’s richest race. For William Buick, who will be Suroor’s principal jockey this season, it was the most significant and lucrative victory of his career, while there was a glimpse of the future of racing in Dubai too as the winner is owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, the son of the country’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed, the most powerful owner that Flat racing has seen.

Prince Bishop was only a 14-1 chance with British bookmakers, but in its way, this result was more puzzling than that of bigger-priced horses such as Monterosso and Gloria De Campeao in recent years. The World Cup was being run on dirt for the first time at Meydan, and the two highly-rated American dirt specialists in the field, California Chrome and Lea, both seemed to run to their best in finishing second and third.

Neither could find a meaningful response, however, when Buick appeared on their outside coming around the home turn. Once Prince Bishop was in front, the race was over, yet this was a horse that had finished ninth, seventh and tenth in three previous start in World Cups on Meydan’s old Tapeta surface, and 10th of 11 on turf in the Sheema Classic two years ago.

California Chrome was trapped four wide for much of the race from the widest draw in stall nine, but Turftrax tracking equipment suggests he covered only a few feet more than the winner. He also ran so close to his official rating relative to Lea, after Hokko Tarumae, another dirt specialist from Japan, had set a reasonable pace, that Prince Bishop can only be seen as having recorded considerable and unexpected improvement on the night.

“I don’t go numb very often but I can’t explain what I’m feeling right now,” Buick said. “He has a very unorthodox was of racing so I took him out of the kickback in the back [stretch] and when I got onto California Chrome’s tail, he picked up the bridle and ran on well in the end.

“He likes the surface now that he has the experience [and] he is better than he was. This is just nuts.”

Victor Espinoza, the rider of California Chrome, offered no real excuses for the favourite’s defeat. “He lost his stride a little bit on the [home] turn because the horse on his inside pushed me out,” Espinoza said. “But overall, he ran awesome.”

Solow extended an impressive record to eight wins from his last nine starts with a comprehensive victory in the Dubai Turf over nine furlongs, his first Group One race. Freddy Head’s five-year-old now promises to be a major player at the highest level in Europe this summer, and could potentially race at both 10 furlongs and a mile.

The Grey Gatsby, who beat Australia in last year’s Irish Champion Stakes, was sent off as favourite despite having been absent since his victory at Leopardstown, but he was never travelling as smoothly as Solow, who warmed up for Saturday’s race on Chantilly’s all-weather track earlier this month. Maxime Guyon sent him ahead approaching the final furlong and while The Grey Gatsby stayed on into second place, the winning margin of four-and-a-quarter lengths was a fair reflection of Solow’s superiority on the day.

“This was a big test as it was his first Group One race,” Head said. “But I couldn’t have had him better and he showed what a good horse he is. He is one of the best I have trained.”

Dolniya completed a double on the night for Christophe Soumillon when she took the Dubai Sheema Classic, with Main Sequence, last year’s Breeders’ Cup Turf winner, among the beaten horses.

Earlier on the card, Michael Owen’s Brown Panther, one of the first horses bred by the former England footballer, showed that he retains all his talent and enthusiasm at the age of seven with a comprehensive success in the Group Two Dubai Gold Cup.

There will be sterner tests ahead for Brown Panther, who recorded his first Group One victory in last season’s Irish St Leger, but his seasonal debut could not have been more straightforward or professional. Richard Kingscote sat close behind the pace in the two-mile contest before sending Brown Panther ahead on the home turn, opening up a lead that his opponents never threatened.

“He’s been doing very well the last year-and-a-half and he’s got a big year ahead of him,” Kingscote said. Brown Panther is 7-1 from 10-1 with BetVictor for the Gold Cup at Ascot in June, in which he was third behind Leading Light last year.

The most emphatic winner of the meeting was Mubtaahij, who took the UAE Derby by eight lengths easing down and is now guaranteed a berth in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. “ I was going very easily and as soon as I pressed the button, it was all over,” Christophe Soumillon, Mubtaahij’s jockey, said. “In the end, I kept some energy for the future, especially if he goes to Kentucky.”

Mubtaahij is top-priced at 14-1 with Coral to win the Run For The Roses on 2 May.

Posted by on Mar 31 2015. Filed under Hippisme. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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