x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Vodka's absence is a big loss for the World Cup

The Japanese mare was retired on Monday after suffering from a nosebleed following a race at Meydan Racecourse's Super Thursday meeting last week.

DUBAI // Martin Talty, the international manager of Dubai Racing Club, yesterday described the loss of Vodka from the Dubai World Cup line-up as a "major blow". The Japanese mare was retired on Monday after suffering from a nosebleed following a race at Meydan Racecourse's Super Thursday meeting last week. Talty, who scours the world's racing centres to source the best horses for World Cup night, said the seven-time Group One-winner would be missed at the same venue on March 27.

"It's a major blow. It would come as a blow to any international race meeting when a horse of the calibre of Vodka, the best female racehorse Japan has seen, is forced to withdraw," he said. "You can liken it to losing a major player in an all-star team." The six-year-old had bled after winning Japan's premier race, the Grade One Japan Cup, by a nose from Oken Bruce Lee back in November. Her connections felt the mare could recover and compete in Dubai, a venue where she has failed to live up to her star billing as she finished fourth in the Duty Free in 2008 and seventh in the same race in 2009.

Bleeding from the nose after a race is usually a sign that high blood pressure has caused blood vessels in the lungs to burst during strenuous exercise. In some countries, like the USA, horses can run on the blood pressure-reducing drug Lasix but the substance is banned in the UAE. "Vodka was one of 14 horses who are going to run in the World Cup and fortunately we will still have a stellar line-up," said Talty.

"We've lost her but there will be other stars on the night." The runners have not yet been revealed for the World Cup, but Henry Cecil's Champion Stakes winner, Twice Over, is confirmed to make the trip and the 2009 World Cup runner-up, Gloria de Campeao, also starts. @Email:stregoning@thenational.ae