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Dubai World Cup: Laurel River causes upset in Meydan feature after Rebel’s Romance lands Sheema Classic



Laurel River turned the Dubai World Cup into a procession when running out a wide-margin winner for local trainer Bhupat Seemar and jockey Tadhg O’Shea.

Formerly trained by Bob Baffert, the Juddmonte-owned six-year-old was trying the 10-furlong trip for the first time but with two furlongs to run had the race won.

Derma Sotogake, Ushba Tesoro, Newgate and Kabirkhan had garnered most of the pre-race talk, with Laurel River almost sneaking in under the radar.

It looked a brave decision to step him up in trip, despite winning a Group Three by almost seven lengths over a mile last time out.

O’Shea was allowed to dictate the race from a long way out and, under no pressure, he went further and further clear.

Entering the final furlong, he was still 10 lengths ahead and while Laurel River understandably got tired late on, he crossed the line well ahead of Ushba Tesoro and Senor Buscador.

The winning trainer said: “I would like to thank Juddmonte and His Royal Highness for sending me the horse. I was worried that they might be going too fast but Tadhg got the right fractions and also a breather into him.

“It’s the greatest feeling to have won this race, but what he was doing in the mornings made me think, ‘what has this horse got?’

“There is so much stamina in his pedigree but his training was out of this world.”

O’Shea added: “I tell you one thing, I have never ridden one as good as him. I never dreamed I would win the Dubai World Cup, it really is the stuff of dreams.

“He behaved like a pony; he hit the gates and did everything from the front, it was unbelievable. He gave himself every chance to get the distance, it’s an amazing feeling.”

Tower of London impressively wins the Dubai Gold Cup

Tower Of London swoops late and fast to strike gold

Tower Of London once again displayed a smart turn of foot to win the Dubai Gold Cup.

Aidan O’Brien’s four-year-old had come from the back of the pack to win in Saudi Arabia last time out and once again Ryan Moore dropped him out at the rear.

His task was made somewhat easier as Roger Varian’s Eldar Eldarov was withdrawn at the start on veterinary advice.

The field only went at a sedate pace and it might not have looked the right place to be, especially with John and Thady Gosden’s Champions Day winner Trawlerman helping to dictate matters.

When Kieran Shoemark kicked on early in the straight it briefly looked as if he may have slipped the field.

However, his backers soon knew their fate as Al Nayyir loomed up on the bridle looking the likely winner.

Unfortunately for him, Tower Of London was just about to hit top gear down the centre of the track and the Galileo colt came with a sweeping run, looking a stayer very much on the upgrade.

“We’re delighted, we felt he would come on from Saudi – all the staff have been very happy with him out here,” said O’Brien.

“Ryan gave him a beautiful ride, he got it spot on. What can you say about him, he’s so cool. He saved ground on him and then dropped him on the line.

“I Imagine he’s an Ascot-type horse, the Hardwicke or maybe the Coronation at Epsom.”

Moore said: “We had a position down the back and I tracked Jim Crowley’s horse (Sea Stone). He picked up well in the straight and put up an impressive performance.”

Part-owner Michael Tabor was enjoying his first trip to Dubai and said: “I just felt that throughout the whole race, he had plenty in hand, everything suited him.

“He didn’t have the greatest of draws, but Ryan is Ryan.

“Two miles is as far as he wants to go and he’s possibly better at a mile and a half. Ryan was adamant, don’t be frightened to go back to a mile and a half. All those races are open to him.”

Forever Young enhances Kentucky Derby claims

Forever Young  wins the UAE Derby on the Dubai World Cup securing his place in  the Kentucky Derby
Forever Young wins the UAE Derby

Forever Young booked his ticket for the Kentucky Derby with a smooth success in the UAE Derby.

Advertising once again Japan’s standing on the world stage, Forever Young was following up his victory in the Saudi Derby last time out.

His sights will now be set on the Race For The Roses after he wore down Auto Bahn close home to win with authority for Yoshito Yahagi, no stranger to winning on Dubai World Cup night after his treble two years ago.

Yahagi explained how it was a poignant success: “This is after my master trainer my father passed away this morning.

“He is potentially very high class and he did not enjoy the travel to Saudi but he still performed very well.

“He travelled better to Dubai. I really believe my team will keep him in good order to go for the Kentucky Derby.”

Winning jockey Ryusei Sakai added: “His condition has improved since Saudi. I really trusted him to perform to his best today.

“I believe this horse is unbeatable at the moment. A lot of good owners and trainers have given me good opportunities, like they did on this horse.”

Rebel’s Romance rekindles Meydan love affair

Rebel’s Romance caused a surprise under a fine William Buick ride in the Dubai Sheema Classic, in which dual Derby winner Auguste Rodin finished last.

While Charlie Appleby’s six-year-old did win the Breeders’ Cup Turf in 2022, he was well beaten in the corresponding race 12 months ago and looked to be up against it in a field stacked with quality.

Along with Auguste Rodin, who is developing an all-or-nothing reputation, there was Emily Upjohn, Spirit Dancer and Japanese challengers Liberty Island and Stars On Earth.

Rebel's Romance landed the Group 1 Sheema Classic at the Dubai World Cup meeting under William Buick
Rebel’s Romance landed the Group 1 Sheema Classic at the Dubai World Cup meeting under William Buick

A strong stayer at the trip, Rebel’s Romance, who won the UAE Derby back in 2021, galloped all the way to the line, with Shahryar, Liberty Island and Justin Palace, all from Japan, taking minor honours. Emily Upjohn fared best of the rest just behind but Auguste Rodin offered nothing.

Appleby said: “He’d won a Breeders’ Cup Turf and four Group Ones, yet he was 20-1, which showed just how deep a race it was.

“William told me he had a plan but I told him not to tell me, then I couldn’t roast him if it went wrong!

“To have a winner tonight, on what has been a really international night, to get one on the board for Godolphin and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed is very pleasing.”

The Newmarket handler added: “It was our last throw of the darts, but we were confident he was in as good a place as we could get him. He went to Kempton and then had a great ride in Qatar from William.

“He has travelled a lot but we were confident he was at his best. Plan A was to go forward to give the horse the best chance to run his best race.

“This whole night is a huge space in the racing calendar that everyone will aim for. You’ve got to look after these horses and make sure you don’t give them one race too many.

“We toyed with the Champions & Chater Cup in Hong Kong next, but we will enjoy today and he deserves a bit of a rest.”

Buick added: “He showed in Qatar that he can still perform from the front or close to it. He has a big stride and we decided to get across and somewhere near the action. We were given an easy lead off easy fractions. I was surprised he was in his comfort zone, going easily.”

O’Brien was keen to write off Auguste Rodin’s below-par effort, stating: “It was a bit of a non-event really. The race just developed into halves so we just want to put a line through the race really.

“Ryan (Moore) just said he felt he wasn’t happy where he was or anything. They just never activated at all so it was a bit of a non-event. It was just one of them where it didn’t happen.”

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