At Meydan the US$160,000, listed Curlin Handicap (2000m) on dirt was turned into a procession by Dolkong (USA), representing South Korea for owner Lee Tae In and trainer Simon Foster. In a truly international result, the five-year-old gelded son of Afleet Alex was foaled in the US, is trained by an Australian and had Frenchman Olivier Doleuze in the saddle.
A winner six times in his career, Dolkong was opening his UAE account at the third attempt, having started his campaign when sixth in Al Maktoum Challenge R1 (G2) in January. He then ran an improved third in handicap company two weeks later over this trip. On Thursday, Tae In was in attendance for the first time.
“We thought they would go quick, but perhaps not as fast as they did,” Foster said. “Olivier is a class jockey and has given him a great ride. The horse is starting to mature and improving with age because he has not had that many races. We will have to look at Round 3 on Super Saturday for him, now.”
Doleuze, added: “I am very happy for everyone for the connections. I am lucky to ride this horse last time, when he ran a very good race. Since then I have been working on him and he looked like he really improved from the first time that I rode him. Today he showed what I was expecting him to show. He has already had a fantastic Carnival, he won a very good race today and everyone is happy. Now everything from here is a bonus.”
Across the world at Ellerslie, Auckland, the NZ$1m, Group 1 New Zealand Derby (2400m) on turf was won by Crown Prosecutor (AUS) under jockey Craig Grylls at his seventh start.
It was the first New Zealand Derby win for Cambridge trainer Stephen Marsh who saddled two runners in the race with punters favouring Group 2 Avondale Guineas (2100m) placegetter Vernanme as his main winning chance. That overlooked the credentials of stablemate Crown Prosecutor who had disappointed in his previous two runs since winning the Group 3 Wellington Stakes (1600m) back in November.
In a muddling run affair that saw several of the fancied contenders, including favourite Surely Sacred, settle well off the pace, Crown Prosecutor and rider Craig Grylls took advantage of a perfect run in the trail throughout to spring a major upset.
Grylls guided the Medaglia D’Oro gelding into the clear at the 300m mark and dashed to the front to join In A Twinkling (AUS) (Fastnet Rock) under Australian jockey Glen Boss who is based at Kranji in Singapore.
The pair set down to a fierce battle over the closing stages that went in favour of the long priced Crown Prosecutor.
“Turning in he travelled up underneath me then he just kept grinding away and fought it out to the line,” said Grylls who also used to plie his trade at Kranji.
Marsh, who emulated his father Bruce who took out the 2000 edition of the event with Hail, was trying hard to keep his emotions in check as he accepted congratulations after the race.
“It just feels outstanding,” he said.
“I know he was one of the roughies of the race and we know how hard it is to even have a horse in the Derby.
“I don’t usually get given colts to train and we have, so this is the race you want to win as it’s the best race on the calendar,” he said.
Platinum Invador (NZ) (Redwood) fought nicely for third under Chris Johnson. The margins were a neck and 1 3/4L with the time 2.28.17.
Crown Prosecutor is raced by Huntingdon Lodge Ltd.’s Harvey and Linda Green and long-time Marsh stable client, Lib Petagna and has now won two of his seven starts for NZ$644,625 in stakes earnings.