The UAE opened the meeting with a double for Doug Watson as Second Summer (US) under Pat Dobbs gave the trainer back to back victories in the $1 million Group 2 Godolphin Mile.
Due to heavy rains the day before the dirt track had been sealed for the first time since its installation and Watson along with most of the trainers was unsure as to whether Second Summer would handle the going. Thankfully the gelding owned by Sheikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, found the going to his liking, comfortably holding off a fast finishing Ross (IRE) and Andrea Atzeni to win by a neck.
Qatar was next to strike for the Asian Racing Federation, when Reda (QA) stormed to victory in the Group 1 Kahayla Classic over 2000m for owner breeder, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Thani. It was the third Kahayla Classic victory for trainer Julian Smart and the second for H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Thani’s Al Shahania Stud. Reda was a late invite and had only competed on dirt once, but once was clearly enough.
Racing at the tail end of the field, the five-year-old entire displayed an electric turn of foot on entering the home straight, sweeping past the long time leaders, to win by two and a half lengths.
The $2 million Group 2 UAE Derby was indeed a cosmopolitan affair, with an Irish horse, trained by an Emerati and ridden by a Belgian returning victorious. Christophe Soumillon had his work cut out for him on the Saeed Bin Suroor trained Thunder Snow (IRE), with the race producing another thrilling duel as Japanese entrant Epicharis (JPN) ridden by Christophe Lemair and trained by Kiyoshi Hagiwara refused to relinquish his slender lead.
The two colts crossed the line as one and it took a photo to show that Thunder Snow had just got his nose in front when it mattered most. Bin Suroor was delighted with the victory, especially as stablemate Beautiful Romance (GB) ridden by Oisin Murphy had gone down by a neck to Vazirabad (FR) and Soumillon in the preceding race, the $1million Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup.
After just missing out in the Derby, Japanese fans were understandably delighted when Vivlos (JPN) won the $6 million Group 1 Dubai Turf sponsored by DP World over 1800m in style. Under a driving ride by Hong Kong based Joao Moreira, a determined Vivlos just edged out Al Shaqab’s Heshem(IRE) and Gregory Benoist after a thrilling duel up the home straight.
Trained by Yasuo Tomomichi, Vivlos, a four-year-old daughter of Deep Impact out of the Machiavellian mare Halwa Sweet (JPN) recorded her fourth victory and her second Group 1 victory for her owner Kazuhiro Sasaki, after wining the Group 1 Shuka Sho at Kyoto in October.
As expected the $10 million Group 1 Dubai World Cup was dominated in a spectacular fashion by the highest rated horse in the world, the Bob Baffert trained Arrogate (USA). Owned by Prince Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms, Arrogate was a clear favourite to win the Dubai World Cup.
However the race did not quite pan out quite as expected, with Arrogate missing the break, before being squeezed by Furia Cruzada (CHI) and Keen Ice (US), causing the grey colt to lose several lengths. This left Arrogate trailing the strung out field down the backstretch as the grey colt battled to find his rhythm on the slippery track.
Mike Smith sat patiently and once Arrogate was comfortable he asked the colt to make a move around the outside of the field, going six wide. Arrogate responded instantly and as the field turned for home, he was midfield and passing horses easily.
Gun Runner (US) under Florent Geroux tried valiantly to hold off a charging Arrogate, but it was to no avail as the colt swept past to win easily by two and a quarter lengths.
It was an extraordinary performance by any standards and it will have confirmed Arrogate’s standing at the top of the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings along with the Australian mare Winx (AUS).