x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Long distance support for So You Think at Dubai World Cup

Their nerves will jangle over this Dubai World Cup at Meydan because they know that one of the headliners, So You Think, began his decorated life at Windsor Park Stud in Cambridge, New Zealand.

So You Think will have plenty of support on Dubai World Cup night later this month.
So You Think will have plenty of support on Dubai World Cup night later this month.

In the first hours of April, nine time zones east of Dubai, amid the North Island of New Zealand, in the Waikato equine district south of Auckland, a family will rise from futile attempts at sleep.

Some good friends, the Chamberlains, might turn up around dawn.

"Sue Schick of Windsor Park has joined us in the wee hours to watch earlier races, so she may pack her pyjamas, too," Michael Moran wrote in an email.

As the sun says hello, or doesn't, these odd-hour gatherers will turn their attention to something happening still on a hot night in March.

Their nerves will jangle over thisDubai World Cup at Meydan because they know that one of the headliners, So You Think, began his decorated life at Windsor Park Stud in Cambridge, New Zealand. They knew him from the start, with Moran as co-breeder, long before his story whooshed across the world from Australia to Europe.

Near the end of the annual procession of sporting events wherein the world courses through the UAE - from the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix to the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships and on - up ahead still lies the event with "World" as its middle name. The Dubai World Cup slated for March 31 long has earned that, but in recent years the earning has accelerated almost madly.

Mirroring its hyper-globalising sport, the world's richest race has had the Argentine winner with the Emirati owner and the American trainer and the Panamanian jockey and the stardom in Uruguay (Invasor, 2007).

It had the Japanese winner with Japanese owner and trainer and the Italian jockey (Victoire Pisa, 2011), by a neck over a Japanese runner-up. It had the Brazilian winner with the French trainer and the Swedish, Brazil-based owner and the Brazilian jockey (Gloria De Campeao, 2010).

That winner, by the way, nosed out the South African runner-up with the Emirati ownership and the South African jockey whose premature exultation told of the closeness of the race.

By its multi-national standards, 2008 and 2009 proved almost monochromatic. Those winners had Kentucky foaling, American training and American ownership, even if one had major Canadian bloodlines (Curlin, 2008) and one had played England (Well Armed, 2009).

That pretty much covers all the continents except Antarctica, where stud farms might not appear until the globe really-really warms. In a world ever more shorn of secrets, a planet can resemble a neighbourhood (which the Canadian Marshall McLuhan did forecast).

So, reflecting on the big-whoop sale of So You Think to Coolmore in 2010, a respected breeder like Moran can wind up saying: "At the time of his purchase, it was somewhat bittersweet as it meant that Bart Cummings would not get to continue his incredible association and achievements with the horse, and the Australian public lost their 'rock star' to European racing fans."

Bart Cummings, of course, means the 84-year-old Australian trainer so renowned he has appeared on an Australian postage stamp.

Then again, Moran wrote, "Coolmore has a really strong relationship with Windsor Park," and it has been "a real thrill for me personally to have co-bred a future Coolmore stallion."

Horses, like the pop icon Madonna, star on different continents more than ever, and so you have a global race without an Emirati winner in five years, since Invasor's win for Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid followed upon Electrocutionist's win in 2006 for Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa. That will be one of the themes of three weeks hence, even as such a lull would seem logical in a free-for-all world.

"There will definitely be a lot of other supporters watching" in the early New Zealand hours, Moran wrote. "New Zealand gets good coverage of the big international races now."

Fourteen thousand kilometres away (unless he makes a late decision to fly), there will be someone who can say: "So You Think was special from day one. He truly had an aura about him, and he developed into a yearling of outstanding quality. I really did feel he was unique. We were so pleased that Bart Cummings [whom I used to work for as a young chap in the early 1980s] could see what we saw in him, and purchased him."

So while they will run on a Saturday night at Meydan, keen viewers will watch from a Saturday morning in California to a Sunday morning on the North Island, where they will back the entry with the New Zealand foaling, the Malaysian former owner, the Australian former trainer, the Australian former jockeys, the Irish ownership, the Irish trainer and the English jockeys. So You Think might not win, but he does epitomise.




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