DUBAI (Reuters) - Ruler Of The World has a chance to make up for a narrow defeat at Ascot late last year, with the four-year-old colt installed as favourite to win Saturday’s $10 million Dubai World Cup, the world’s richest horse race.
In October, the Aidan O’Brien-trained 2013 Epsom Derby winner was beaten 3/4 length by Farhh and Cirrus des Aigles in the 10 furlong (2,000 metres) Champion Stakes at Ascot after challenging late in a thrilling three-way finish.
However, the Irish-bred son of Galileo was made 4-1 favourite for the 19th running of the 2,000 metre Dubai World Cup despite returning from a five-month lay-off and the fact that it will be his first run on a synthetic tapeta surface.
Harry Herbert, racing advisor of Qatar’s royal Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad al-Thani, who bought a 50 percent interest in the colt in a last minute deal, was optimistic after drawing the 12 post for the contest at the opulent Meydan Racecourse.
“We would have preferred a lower draw but his jockey, Joseph O’Brien, is a master at getting a good racing position,” Herbert told reporters.
Sixteen runners, including nine Group 1 winners, from eight countries will compete for the prized golden trophy in front of an expected crowd of 60,000 in what connections see as an open contest.
However, no American horses are participating this year despite Animal Kingdom’s success in 2013.
“It is a very competitive race. We have got horses from Ireland, Hong Kong and Japan, not only local horses,” said jockey Silvestre de Soussa, who will ride 12-1 chance African Story for Godolphin’s boys in blue.
More race mileage may give an edge to Hong Kong-trained runners such as Irish-bred Military Attack, who won the Hong Kong Gold Cup by three lengths in a blazing finish last month for the second year in a row.
“Hong Kong horses that are coming are very, very fit, while a lot of European horses... they have not even had races before,” said John Moore, Military Attack’s trainer, who drew the number eight stall, a figure considered lucky in Hong Kong.
“It will definitely give an edge... not necessarily that they are better, it is that we have just got fitness on our side,” added Moore, who believes the six-year-old will finish in top three in Dubai, where he is the second favourite at 13-2.
Another Hong Kong-trained runner, Akeed Mofeed, is an 8-1 bet despite finishing a disappointing fifth behind Military Attack in the Gold Cup at Sha Tin, sharing the same odds with Saeed bin Suroor’s Prince Bishop.
The seven-year-old son of Dubawi, running in Dubai Crown Prince green silks, is seen as the best chance among home World Cup contenders after snatching his first Group One win in the Al Maktoum Challenge on March 8.
“The horse is doing really good. I know we drew (the stall) number one but he has a good turn on foot. He can take any position early, depends how fast will be the race,” Suroor said.
“This year it is going to be a fast race since you have some horses like Mukhadram, who like to be in front. If he takes the third position in the race I will be happy with him,” he added.
Veteran eight-year old Red Cadeaux is set to make another bid for the World Cup on Saturday after losing by two lengths to Animal Kingdom last year.
However, the November Melbourne Cup runner-up is regarded as an outsider at 25-1 this time. He came fourth in the Hong Kong Vase in December, his last track appearance.
“It is a stronger race than last year, I would think, Hong Kong is strong,” trainer Ed Dunlop told Reuters.
“It is exciting to be involved again and hopefully he will run well. He is in a very good form,” he added.
Editing by John O'Brien