Seven Days: A Feast Fit For a Queen

Equinox dazzles in Dubai | Dubai Racing Club

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A World Cup meeting needs world-class runners plus a global spread of results. This much and more was delivered by the 27th Dubai World Cup and supporting races at Meydan on Saturday.

With 26 runners on the night, it was always a given that Japan would feature prominently and, in an exhibition of excellence that we are now becoming accustomed to, they led all comers, just as they had in Riyadh last month. The performance of Ushba Tesoro (Jpn) (Orfevre {Jpn}) alone was pretty dramatic, coming from tailed off to a rallying victory in the big race itself, but all else pales when compared to the extraordinary Equinox (Jpn) (Kitasan Black {Jpn}).

There have been some classy winners of the Dubai Sheema Classic over the years but none has cruised over the line with such imperious ease as the 4-year-old, who was Japan's Horse of the Year in 2022. 

We may be only three months into 2023, but Equinox has quickly become almost everybody's horse of this year. His connections appear to have ruled out a bid for the Arc, with the Breeders' Cup Turf a more likely international option for later in the year. Those of us on this side of the pond can only hope they change their mind and consider Ascot in July for the King George and Queen Elizabeth S.

Once again it was a major meeting which showcased the rewards to be reaped when keeping horses in training beyond their 2- or 3-year-old seasons. Leaving aside the  UAE Derby, Equinox was the youngest winner of the night, with horses aged five, six and seven claiming two victories apiece. 

Lord North (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}) and Broome (Ire) (Australia {GB}) were born a day apart in February 2016, and have mustered 52 runs and 19 wins between them. Both may be a little under-appreciated, though surely not by their connections, considering that the former has triumphed in exactly half of his 20 starts and accumulated almost £6.5 million in prize-money, largely through his historic hat-trick in the Dubai Turf. The well-named Broome (out of Sweepstake) has taken his connections on a merry dance from Ireland to England, France, America, Japan, Hong Kong, Qatar, and now Dubai. He has also overcome a fractured shin from  a kick by another horse after running in the Japan Cup of November 2021. Quick thinking and treatment by vet Kanichi Kusano, who is now the Japan Racing Association's representative in London, meant that Broome was able to resume racing the following May, winning the G2 Hardwicke S. on his second run back after the break, and now the G2 Dubai Gold Cup.

A chance outing on Sunday took this correspondent to the ancestral home of the original Lord North. Kirtling Tower, not far from Newmarket, is the remaining part of what was once Kirtling Hall and its vast estate across Suffolk and Cambridgeshire. A financial advisor and treasurer of sorts to Henry VIII and Thomas Cromwell when it came to the dissolution of the monasteries, Lord North, who died in 1564, is entombed at Kirtling Church. Some 14 years later, his son Roger, the second Lord North, entertained Elizabeth I at Kirtling Hall.

Legend has it that the among the long list of food served to the Queen and fellow guests during their three-day stay were 2,316 pigeons, 446 quails, 221 cows' tongues, feet and udders, 110 bitterns, 99 dottrells, 96 rabbits, 67 sheep, 34 pigs, 32 swans, 28 plovers, four stags, and one crane. This was all washed down with 74 hogsheads of beer, six hogsheads of claret and six gallons of spiced wine known as hippocras. It makes the Federation of Bloodstock Agents' annual lunch seem positively abstemious. 

Saudi, Dubai, Next Stop Kentucky

It is hard to get away from Sunday Silence in the Japanese sire lists, and he featured as the paternal great grandsire of both Ushba Tesoro and Equinox. The 1989 Kentucky Derby winner also pops up on the dam's side in the third generation of the G2 UAE Derby winner Derma Sotogake (Jpn), who will now try to emulate his notable ancestor by heading to Churchill Downs on the first weekend of May.

The Shadai-bred Derma Sotogake, who was also third in the G2 Saudi Derby, is the first major international winner from the debut crop of Mind your Biscuits, who ended 2022 as the leading first-season sire in Japan. In his racing days, the 10-year-old son of Posse landed back-to-back runnings of the G1 Golden Shaheen as well as winning the GI Malibu S. at three, and he looks an inspired purchase for the Shadai Stallion Station. His pedigree appears to be a natural fit for mares from the Sunday Silence/Deep Impact line and, as a great grandson of Deputy Minister, his is a sire-line which has succeeded in Japan through French Deputy and his son Kurofune. The latter, himself a grey, features most notably as the sire of the pure white Sodashi (Jpn), winner of the 2021 G1 Oka Sho (Japanese 1,000 Guineas).

Amo Racing's Season Off to a Flyer

The 2023 Tattersalls Craven Breeze-up was represented by its first winner on Saturday before the sale had even taken place. Formerly known as Lot 153 but now racing as Bucanero Fuerte (GB) (Wootton Bassett {GB}), the full-brother to G1 Prix de l'Abbaye winner and Haras de Bouquetot sire Wooded (Ire) won Ireland's first juvenile contest of the year at the Curragh.

Bought as a yearling last August at Arqana for €165,000, he was signed for by breeze-up consignor Robson Aguiar, who presumably had plenty of involvement in the colt's preparation for his debut for owners Amo Racing and Giselle de Aguiar and trainer Adrian Murray. The same triumvirate is also involved in Lightening Army (GB), a juvenile from the first crop of Soldier's Call (GB) who has an entry at Dundalk on Friday.

By Saturday evening, Amo Racing had notched its first stakes winner in America when Crispy Cat (GB) (Ardad {Ire}), who had also been selected by Aguiar as a yearling, won the Texas Glitter S. at Gulfstream Park. A decent juvenile last term for Michael O'Callaghan, Crispy Cat won on debut and notched several black-type places, including an unlucky third in the G2 Norfolk S. He later filled the same position in the G2 Flying Childers, and he could well have a fruitful year ahead of him in the States, where is one of a team of around 30 horses for Amo Racing.

The Amo colours could also be seen in Classic action this year as among the entries for the Irish 2,000 Guineas is the G2 Beresford S. winner Crypto Force (GB) (Time Test {GB}), who has moved from O'Callaghan to the Gosdens.

Murphy Skilled in Both Spheres

Amy Murphy has made a habit of targeting French races in recent years and her approach paid dividends across the codes last week with two markedly different winners.

At Saint-Cloud on Thursday, the versatile trainer saddled the first winner for Coolmore's freshman sire Magna Grecia (Ire) when Myconian (Ire) won the Prix de Debut for Daniel Macauliffe and Anoj Don. Murphy's husband Lemos de Souza has been a key part of her training establishment from the outset and he had selected the colt for €27,000 at the Tattersalls Ireland September Yearling Sale.

For sheer emotion, however, nothing could top the trainer's second French victory of the week. Now 10, Kalashnikov (Ire) (Kalanisi {Ire}) had been an early star for Murphy and headed into the 2018 Cheltenham Festival with four wins to his credit. He was beaten just a neck when second in the G1 Supreme Novices' Hurdle and went on to become the trainer's first Grade 1 winner the following year in the Manifesto Novices' Chase at Aintree. 

Having had almost two years away from the track while recovering from a tendon injury, Kalashnikov, who races in the colours of Murphy's father Paul, returned to action on Boxing Day. On Sunday, he recorded his eighth victory in the Prix Hubert de Navailles at Auteuil, reducing his trainer, who also rides him every day, to tears.

Globetrotting Murzabayev Off the Mark for Fabre

We may struggle to spell his name correctly but be prepared to hear and see plenty more of Bauyrzhan Murzabayev, the Kazakhstan-born, four-time German champion jockey, who rode his first winner for his new boss Andre Fabre at Fontainebleau on Monday. 

Having race-ridden in both in his native country and the Czech Republic, Murzabayev was initially connected to Andreas Wohler following his move to Germany in 2017. He later joined Peter Schiergen, for whom he won last year's G1 Deutsches Derby on Sammarco (Ire) and G1 Grosser Preis von Bayern aboard Tunnes (Ger). A further breakthrough came during this winter's stint in Japan, where he partnered Dura Erede (Jpn) to land the G1 Hopeful S. among his 21 winners in the country.

Fabre initially called him up ride Mare Australis (Ire) in last year's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, and the 30-year-old was announced as the French trainer's retained jockey earlier this month. On Monday, Palais Du Louvre (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) became the duo's first winner. He is unlikely to be the last.

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