Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 21 May 2019

North America books Dubai World Cup place with victory at Meydan Racecourse

Christophe Soumillon steers Estihdaaf to first in Group 3 UAE 2000 Guineas on Week 6 of DWC Carnival

North America under Richard Mullen won the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2. Victor Besa / The National
North America under Richard Mullen won the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2. Victor Besa / The National

North America and Estihdaaf stole the spotlight during Week 6 of the Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday.

North America booked his place in the Dubai World Cup for a second successive year after his impressive win in the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2. It is his second win in a row this season, having dominated the Group 2 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 1 at Meydan last month.

Richard Mullen provided the Satish Seemar-trained gelding with a now familiar run on the rails before easing to victory by two-and-a-quarter lengths from New Trails.

“He is a bit like his jockey, improving with age,” Mullen said of his partnership with the seven-year-old Dubawi gelding. “A lot was made out of his first run [in Round 1], and it is hard for a horse to replicate what he did.

"Yes, he was visibly impressive and I always had it in the back of my mind that I thought he would win this race. But I didn’t think he would do it in the manner in which he did."

Mullen pointed out that it was hard for any horse to back up a big win with another impressive run.

"A lot of it was freshness and a lot of it was obviously adrenaline," he explained. “He is a top-class horse and he likes the surroundings."

Mullen was all praise for North America's stride, which he called both "beautiful" and effective as it "killed off" his competition. "His stride pattern is so different to the others; just half-pacing around there," he observed.

Mullen said there will be a strategy meeting to decide whether or not to run North America in the remaining Al Maktoum challenges.

“We will sit down with the boss and speak to the owner and see if we skip Round 3 or freshen him up for the big night. He is going in the right direction.”

Meanwhile, Christophe Soumillon produced an enterprising ride to steer Estihdaaf to first in the Group 3 UAE 2000 Guineas and provide Godolphin their ninth success in the race. It was also trainer Saeed bin Suroor's seventh Classic prize.

Drawn at Gate 1, Estihdaaf took the shortest way home to end Walking Thunder’s three-win streak.

This was his third local start after being unplaced in the 1,400-metre Turf Condition on January 10 and finishing runner-up in the 1,900m Al Bastakiya Trial on the dirt surface two weeks later.

Soumillon said he was confident of victory when they hit the front as the field swept on to the home stretch.

“I know when you have a horse like him - who is a bit lazy - if you can hit the front and relax for a while, it’s hard to catch up,” the Belgian said. “I was very confident [once he hit the front], especially when I saw the favourite turning [for home] four [paths wide]. I knew I had a winning chance.

“When Saeed [bin Suroor] gets some ideas, he can make things work," Soumillon added. "He showed more speed today. I told Saeed last time that if I had hit the front, I would have won it, and finally we did it today. It was a better race, and we are all very happy with it.”

William Buick and Charlie Appleby, Godolphin's other jockey-trainer partnership, won the two prizes before and after the Guineas with Dubhe and Nordic Lights.

They completed a treble by taking the concluding handicap on Mubtasim to round off the evening with four winners for Godolphin in the seven-race card meeting.

Updated: February 7, 2019 10:49 PM



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