x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Dubai World Cup: Quick start on the night depends on stall position

Hunter's Light will break from the fourth stall in the Godolphin Mile, a spot jockey Silvestre De Sousa likes because 'when you are in the middle you have all the options'. See our interactive race card here

Jockey Silvestre De Sousa and Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor are happy with where Hunter's Light will break to start the Godolphin Mile on Saturday night.
Jockey Silvestre De Sousa and Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor are happy with where Hunter's Light will break to start the Godolphin Mile on Saturday night.

DUBAI // The chances of Hunter's Light securing Silvestre De Sousa his first victory in the Dubai World Cup increased on Wednesday when the Godolphin runner was handed a dream stall position for the US$10 million (Dh36.7m) feature on Saturday.

The glittering post-position draw was held at Meydan Racecourse's IMAX theatre, where Hunter's Light was the sixth horse drawn from the drum.

Saeed bin Suroor, the trainer, had no hesitation in choosing the fourth stall, which is near the middle of the 13-runner field.

The starting position hands the initiative to the Brazilian De Souza.

"I'm very happy with the draw," De Sousa said. "When you are in the middle of the stalls, you have all the options."

Monterosso, last year's victor, will defend his crown from Gate 10, with Mickael Barzalona on board, while Capponi, who chased home Monterosso 12 months ago, will be alongside Hunter's Light in the No 5 stall, under Ahmed Ajtebi.

De Sousa hinted that Ajtebi may well set the pace aboard Capponi on the horse's first start since last year's contest.

"When you have your stablemates around you, they can look after you and give you half an inch, although I am not sure they will as they are all pretty competitive," De Sousa said.

Hunter's Light bids to hand bin Suroor his first win in the 2,000-metre event since Electrocutionist in 2006, who also used the concluding round of the Al Maktoum Challenge as a springboard to World Cup glory.

Bin Suroor was not quite so fortunate with the post positions of his other runners, with the Dubai World Cup Carnival improver Kassiano drawn widest of all, as his 12 rivals had already been allocated.

African Story, who was transferred from a defence of his Godolphin Mile title at the initiative of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, will emerge from Gate 11.

At Meydan Racecourse, this season, it has not paid to be drawn wide in races run around two turns on the Tapeta surface. Godolphin's Secret Number is the only horse to have won having been drawn in the 11th stall or wider from 69 runners.

"Hunter's Light has a good draw, but it's not so good for African Story, who would have been better with anything between one and seven," said Simon Crisford, Godolphin's racing manager.

"The draw is fine for both Monterosso and Kassiano, who has improved dramatically over the Dubai World Cup Carnival. I believe he has to improve almost as much again for him to win. I'm not too disappointed with the No 13 draw, because he can take his time and finish the race well."

Despite the poor record of horses drawn wide, the connections of Animal Kingdom were barely ruffled by being drawn in Gate 12.

Barry Irwin, the chief executive of Team Valor International, the syndicate that owns a 25 per cent stake in the 2011 Kentucky Derby winner, had little choice after his charge was the penultimate horse to be allocated.

"It isn't that bad," Irwin said.

"He's a middle-pack runner and won the Derby from Gate 16. Of course, it isn't ideal, either, but we wanted to be on the outside.

"We certainly will be on the premises.

"Whether we will win, I don't know, but he's a freak on the Tapeta."

Planteur, who was third last year, will be ridden by Ryan Moore out of the seventh gate after Marco Botti's wife, Lucie, was the fourth person to choose their post.

"It's a big relief to be able to choose early so we are delighted," she said.

"The first part was lucky and now we hope that luck continues into the race itself."

Click here for the full race card at Meydan, and use our interactive graphic below for the complete guide to the Dubai World Cup itself

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