x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Twice Over may be what it takes this time at the Dubai World Cup

Tom Queally's mount has gone from failure last year to being the favourite at this year's showpiece event in horse racing.

Twice Over during a run on the Meydan track ahead of his second attempt to win the Dubai World Cup.
Twice Over during a run on the Meydan track ahead of his second attempt to win the Dubai World Cup.

Given that Tom Queally will ride the favourite on Saturday in the Dubai World Cup, the world's richest horse race, he seems pretty relaxed about it.

The pressure of elite-level racing is increased when you consider his mount, Twice Over, is not only owned by a Saudi Arabian royal, Prince Khalid Abdullah, but is also trained by one of the legends of the turf, Henry Cecil.

Cecil was yet to arrive in Dubai yesterday so Queally has taken a lot of the responsibility for training the son of Observatory. Last week Cecil's wife, Jane, flew out to help with the day-to-day tasks of delivering a top-class thoroughbred on time and trained to the minute.

Cecil has been monitoring it all from Warren Place, his base in England from where he launched one of the most successful training careers of all time.

And yet, despite all of this, Queally, a 26-year-old Irishman, feels as if he is on holiday here.

"For a jockey, it is a week that you get to enjoy," he said. "You do a bit of work in the morning. The weather is great. Dubai has got everything, the beach — you can go skiing if you want. I love horses and I love riding."

If you get the impression that Queally is calm in the face of adversity, then it matches his unflustered style of jockeyship.

He was just 15 years of age when he was given permission to leave school in Dungarvan, Ireland, to ride and he became champion apprentice soon after. In 2009 he won his first Group 1 when he rode Art Connoisseur to victory in the Golden Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.

The win kick-started a sequence of five victories at the highest level in the same season, which included Twice Over's first Champion Stakes success. After that the colt was put away to prepare to race for the largest purse on the planet.

Last March Twice Over attempted to become the first British-trained horse since Singspiel to win the Dubai World Cup, an effort that ended in disappointment.

"Last year he got pushed wide," Queally said. "He got a bump and the toys came out of the pram. You'd be hoping that won't happen. I've got to get him on an even keel. If we can do that he'll be happy and he is best when he is happy."

In the Al Maktoum Challenge Round Three earlier this month Twice Over was drawn on the wide outside of the 14-runner field. Queally coolly angled out the six-year-old from mid-division to take the lead 400 metres from home. The pair were never headed. The Warren Place team clearly learnt their lesson from 12 months ago and with a prep run Twice Over could hold a significant advantage over Aidan O'Brien's Cape Blanco, who touched down only on Tuesday.

If Twice Over is happier now than last year it is because special glue-on shoes have been designed for him. It has meant a larger team than normal, including a farrier, but victory so often makes the smaller details redundant.

Twice Over's shoe comfort fits snugly with that of his trainer, whose choice of Gucci loafer has been the subject of the fashion columns during a career that has seen him crowned the champion trainer 10 times.

Cecil has worked with some of the greatest jockeys of modern times, including Steve Cauthen, Lester Piggott, Kieren Fallon and Pat Eddery and in a sign of Queally's growing stature the two have a seamless relationship.

"He often does things that you wonder why," Queally said. "He just has that way. He just always seems to do the right things with the horses.

"I understand the way he trains, and he understands the way I ride. He doesn't bog me down with instructions. It just works."

Cecil and Queally have been taking one step at a time, but it must have been hard for the jockey these past weeks to eradicate all thoughts of Frankel, the exciting three-year-old who many believe is already home and hosed in the English 2000 Guineas.

"This is the last little break I get - if you can call it a break - before it kicks off back home," Queally said.

"Frankel is something to look forward to. He's got an unblemished career so far. He's done well physically and is in a good place mentally. You've got to enjoy these things. Anything that you do in life you've got to enjoy, otherwise it is not worth doing."

 

sports@thenational.ae