x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 20 July 2017

Can talent triumph over temperament in the Dubai Duty Free?

For three horses in the field for the Dubai Duty Free race at the Dubai World Cup, a win depends on putting their minds to it.

Presvis showed his potential by winning the Group 2 Al Rashidiya in January by more than four lengths, but has been difficult in training at the Meydan Racecourse this week.
Presvis showed his potential by winning the Group 2 Al Rashidiya in January by more than four lengths, but has been difficult in training at the Meydan Racecourse this week.

Hollywood loves a flawed hero and tonight's Group 1 Dubai Duty Free reads like a rogues gallery: the moody Presvis; the unstable Mendip; and Wigmore Hall, who could easily miss the kick when the stalls open and ruin his chance in an instant. All three have the talent to win the 1,800m test, but the US$5million (Dh18.4m) race has a history of producing shock results, and with these three anything is possible.

Presvis may have a rebellious temperament, but Luca Cumani's seven-year-old also has a natural talent. The grumpy son of Sakhee has been difficult at morning track work this week, generally playing up, and at one point zigzagging across the track.

Cumani has said Presvis does whatever he feels like, and in January he decided to toy with his 15 opponents in the Group 2 Al Rashidiya. Drawn widest of all, with Ryan Moore aboard, Presvis stalked the field and 400 metres from the finish he lit up. His athleticism was for all to see as he crushed the field by more than four lengths. If he is in the same mood tonight, he will be difficult to stop.

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A younger generation is ready to make an impression, however. The Dubai Duty Free has been dominated by younger horses, and five of the past six winners of the race were four-year-olds.

Step forward Mendip, a Godolphin horse with impeccable credentials.

The American-bred has raced six times and has lost only once, when finishing behind Musir in the UAE Derby a year ago. His victory in Round One of the Maktoum Challenge in January suggested he might be in line for a crack at the World Cup itself, but his trainer, Saeed bin Suroor, decided to lower the sights.

Mendip has his quirks but, unlike Presvis, cannot cite age as an excuse. In January he needed a comfort blanket and a blindfold to get him into the stalls. He flashed his tail in defiance when Frankie Dettori applied the whip and he edged left when he reached the front.

He displayed similar traits when winning the Burj Nahaar earlier this month, and although it was a performance below the standard he set earlier, he went some way to proving he was better mentally.

Mendip needed to battle and Dettori reported afterwards that he felt that something may have been pinching his mount.

Under the circumstances it was an impressive effort, and if Mendip's temperament is questionable, his talent is certainly not.

"Mendip pleased me when he worked on Monday," said bin Suroor. "He came back well from his last race and is ready to go again. I think he will be fine switching to turf."

 

sports@thenational.ae