where the horse is always the hero
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Posted 2023-03-25 19:08:45  
Equinox - Race Record for once in a lifetime performance in Dubai Turf

Electrifying Equinox a stunning Dubai Sheema Classic winner
$6,000,000 Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic sponsored by Longines

After seven races which had produced some thrilling finishes and compelling storylines, Equinox produced a dominant performance of rare quality to stamp his authority on global middle distance turf racing. He looks quite simply untouchable if trainer Tetsuya Kimura can keep him at this level of form and the Silk Racing syndicate can have their pick of the world’s great races at 2000m and 2400m.

That Equinox was able to run away from his rivals in the straight was predicted by plenty of people beforehand, though few could have foreseen Christophe Lemaire’s decision to lead into the first turn and dictate from the front.

It might well be that tactics were immaterial, such was the superiority of this dazzling son of Kitasan Black, a new champion for both Lemaire and Silk Racing that has come hard on the heels of their horse of a lifetime, Almond Eye.

But, convinced he was on the best horse in the race, Lemaire took chance out of the equation, never taking his hands off the reins, let alone shaking them at Equinox; his measured yet irresistible stride taking him out of range of the pursuing Zagrey and the running-on Westover.

In any normal edition of the Sheema Classic, Juddmonte’s homebred would have been a good winner and trainer Ralph Beckett can plan an ambitious campaign through the summer for Westover.

And Yann Barberot was almost the happiest man in Meydan as his Dubai World Cup Carnival graduate took another big step forward.

Neither is likely to encounter a horse of Equinox’s stature back in Europe, while wherever Japan’s newest superstar races, he will be the box office attraction in global racing.

Lemaire said: "I knew he was the best horse and so I was happy to make the pace. I'm really happy for all of the connections. It's been a long time since I won the Sheema, the last time was with Heart's Cry and he passed away two weeks ago. So I am very grateful for this horse and he has allowed me to pay tribute to Heart's Cry.

"Race after race, he's going up the rankings of the horses I have ridden. It was a great, great performance against these kind of horses at the top level. I couldn't be happier."

Kimura said: "Much like he did last year, he went straight to the lead so that got me a bit worried at the start but the horse travelled fine and everything went well. We didn’t have a plan really and Christophe is just a very good jockey who knows how to ride these horses very well. He did a fantastic job in the saddle and Equinox is such a fine horse that knows how to get the job done.

"It was a tough field with some very strong horses but he’s a champion and he was just the best. He got the job done and made it all look so simple. I am very happy with this performance."

Westover (2nd), jockey Ryan Moore said: "I'm really happy with the run. He ran a super race and he was beaten by a very good horse, but he showed himself to be a high quality colt. That horse [Equinox] will be a threat wherever he goes."

Trainer Ralph Beckett said: "Terrific as it hasn’t been easy this week, he did two laps of the training track on Tuesday when he was only meant to do one! Although he’s keen you have to leave him alone. He’s been beaten by a very good horse, to finish second to him is fantastic. I wouldn’t rule out dropping back to 10 furlongs for an Eclipse or a Tatts Gold Cup.”

Zagrey (3rd), jockey Christophe Soumillon said: "I'm very happy with him as he's progressed through the Carnival. He ran well to be fourth on his comeback and I knew he'd been a bit held up in his preparation. His last run was great and so we were confident he was a horse for World Cup night. Then it was up to Yann to choose between the Turf and the Sheema Classic and he's had a dream run through.

"When I looked up and saw Christophe was away and gone I just concentrated on my horse. I couldn't do much when Ryan came past either but he really dug in to get third against top horses so I'm delighted."

Trainer Yann Barberot added: "It's fantastic. He's a proper Group 1 horse and I'm delighted. He wasn't precocious, as is the case with quite a lot of Zarak's progeny. Then he got injured at three after he was second in the Prix Eugene Adam but that turned out to be a blessing in disguise. He loves soft ground so he might be a horse for something like the Champion Stakes at Ascot. He's been beaten by a phenomenon."

Mostahdaf (4th), jockey Jim Crowley said: "I was in second behind the winner. He’s broken a track record on the bridle. My guy ran well as he could but Equinox is something else. I think he's the best Japanese horse we have seen over here in many years."

Shahryar (5th), jockey Cristian Demuro said: "Ran OK but Equinox is very special."

Win Marilyn (6th), jockey Damian Lane said: "Travelled nice on the fence but she couldn’t finish off from that strong tempo. It doesn't matter anyway - Equinox is just a very special horse.”

Rebel's Romance (7th), jockey William Buick said: "Just didn’t have any luck from the gate. He’s still a very good horse."

Trainer Charlie Appleby quipped: "I wouldn't having one of those [Equinox]."

Russian Emperor (8th), jockey Alberto Sanna said: "We tracked last year’s winner [Shahryar] but it was a serious race. He has had a good time in this part of the world.”

Trainer Douglas Whyte added: “He was never in it, Alberto said the track was a bit more firm than last time. He just never got comfortable – he still ran on, but not like we expected.

"He was still hitting the line, he just didn’t do it the way he did on Super Saturday. We’ll go back and assess things – I’m happy with the horse, he looked great tonight."

Botanik (9th), jockey Mickael Barzalona said: "I tracked the winner but he was only at the same pace in the straight."

Senor Toba (10th), jockey Frankie Dettori said: “I couldn’t blow my nose out there.”

Winning time: 02:25.65 (new race record)


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