x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Gio Ponti has the luck of the draw

The favourite will start from gate four which the trainer Clement says is the perfect place for his American raider to mount a World Cup charge.

DUBAI // Gio Ponti, the favourite to land the Dubai World Cup, was last night given the ideal starting point to launch his challenge for the world's richest race. The American horse was drawn in gate four and Christophe Clement, his trainer, said: "It's exactly what we had hoped for, just perfect.

"We wanted him to be just about halfway along, so we are very happy." The Frenchman said that Gio Ponti, who has claimed four Grade One wins in the USA, had settled well since arriving in Dubai, his first trip outside the States. "He has travelled well and we have been doing some work in the gates so he feels completely at home." Gio Ponti, who will be ridden by Ramon Dominguez, was runner-up to US super-mare Zenyatta in November's Breeders' Cup Classic on Santa Anita's synthetic track.

Crowded House, one of the UK raiders in the US$10m (Dh37m) contest, will go from gate nine on Saturday. "We were hoping for gate seven, eight or nine, so you won't hear any complaints from us," said his handler, Brian Meehan. Crowded House, who was favourite for the Epsom Derby at one point last year before being hampered and running out a disappointing sixth to Sea the Stars, is believed to be back to his best.

He has claimed two second-placed finishes since arriving in the UAE for the start of the Carnival and Meehan said his charge needed the extra runs to be ready for his tilt at World Cup glory. "He is back to the horse that he was last year," said Meehan. "He has had a few preps for the big race and Meydan Racecourse was the best place to get him used to the Tapeta track, which is why we came out here early."

One of Godolphin's two World Cup hopes, the St Leger winner Mastery, was drawn in what might be regarded as an unfavourably wide position in gate 12. But his trainer, Saeed bin Suroor, was undaunted. "He is in great form," said bin Suroor of the colt who will be making his debut this season on Saturday. "He won the St Leger last year so he can compete in Group One company. "The gate may be wide, but he has a nice turn of foot and can cope with it and his jockey, Frankie [Dettori] knows him very well." Allybar, Godolphin's second runner who is saddled by their newly-appointed trainer Mahmoud al Zarooni, will start from gate one. "That is fine," said al Zarooni of the draw. "I am happy with that and very excited to have a runner in my own name in the world's richest race." @Email:stregoning@thenational.ae

Allybar - 1 Gitano Hernando - 2 Red Desire - 3 Gio Ponti - 4 Gloria de Campaeo - 5 Vision D'Etat - 6 Lizard's Desire - 7 Furthest Land - 8 Crowded House - 9 Richard's Kid - 10 Twice Over - 11 Mastery - 12 Mr Brock - 13 Amor de Pobre - 14