Gladiatorus storms to Dubai Duty Free victory

The Dubai Duty Free was a truly Emirati victory with apprentice rider Ahmed Ajtebi completing a remarkable rise through the jockey ranks to partner Gladiatorus to an astonishing victory.

Prepared by first-season trainer Mubarak bin Shafya, and owned by His Excellency Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, the pillar-to-post home victory was heralded with a huge roar from the Nad Al Sheba crown.

Ex-camel jockey Ajtebi was persuaded to try his hand at riding racehorses by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who pointed out that while there were top UAE trainers and owners, there were no UAE riders in the same bracket.

So four years ago he had his first public ride on a thoroughbred and has not stopped surprising everyone since, culminating with this aggressive ride, which saw the four-year-old open up a huge lead rounding the final bend.

While his pursuers tried to catch the trailblazer, it was soon apparent that their hopes were in vain.

The 21-year-old, who punched the air in celebration, declared: “I always said I wanted the UAE to be proud of me and I hope the country is now.

“We were always going to attack from the front as that’s how he won last time. This is a dream come true and I am so grateful to everyone in helping me get where I am now.”

British hope Presvis was at the back of the 16-strong field for most of the trip but absolutely flew home in the closing stages to take second, three and a quarter lengths behind the winner.

Alexandros continued Godolphin’s run of at least in a placed finish in all the preceding thoroughbred races, in finishing third, while the Australian challenger Niconero was fourth after finding trouble in running.


1 Gladiatorus (USA) - Soon led, set decent pace, drew clear 600m out, hard ridden 300m out, ran on well, comfortably
2 Presvis (GB) - Taken to rail, settled rear, never near to challenge, ran on well final 300m
3 Alexandros (GB) - Never better than mid-division
4 Niconero (AUS) - Mid-division, ran on well final 400m out, nearest finish
5 Bankable (IRE) - Mid-division on rail, ridden 600m out, one pace final 400m
6 Archipenko (USA) - Mid-division, ridden 600m out, not quicken final 300m
7 Vodka (JPN) - Tracked winner, ridden to chase 500m out, one pace final 200m
8 Paco Boy (IRE) - Rear of mid-division, never near to challenge
9 Tuesday Joy (NZ) - Never better than mid-division
10 Kip Deville (USA) - Mid-division, ridden 700m out, not quicken
11 Jay Peg (SAF) - Tracked leaders, ridden 600m out, kept on same pace
12 Charlie Farnsbarns (IRE) - Never near to challenge
13 Balius (IRE) - Never near to challenge
14 Hyperbaric (USA) - Never better than mid-division
15 Creachadoir (IRE) - Mid-division on rail, ran on well final 300m, nearest finish
16 Lady Marian (GER) - Rear of mid-division, never near to challenge



Jockey Johnny Murtagh – Bankable – 5th

Mine ran well, but the winner is a monster.

It was a good run, the winner was too much.


Jockey Ahmed Ajtebi – Gladiatorus – 1st

I am so happy and so proud. We were always going to attack from the front because that’s how he won last time. This is a dream come true.


Jockey Yutaka Take – Vodka – 7th

It was disappointing, she didn’t have the same turn of foot as the winner.


Jockey Craig Williams – Niconero – 4th

What a great run. He closed really well. It was a tremendous effort for about 400 meters he was the ham, cheese and pineapple in the sandwich. They just didn’t stop, they just didn’t give him any room, he was hemmed between four horses where there was probably enough room for about two and a half. You’d go to war with him. He was fantastic.


Jockey Tyler Baze – Hyperbaric – 14th

I had a perfect trip, I let him get comfortable in the early going, but when the real running started, he just didn’t kick in. Maybe it was because he had a four month lay off.


Jockey Ted Durcan – Creachadoir – 15th

My horse ran well, but he got tired, he just needed the run.


Jockey Cornelio Velasquez - Kip Deville – 10th

A very good trip, but my horse did not try today.


Jockey Willie Supple – Balius - 13th

He was disappointing today and I don’t know why. He was never really in the race.


Jockey Michael Kinane Alexandros - 3rd

He ran a good race, he just got tightened up at the start but he ran on well and has improved throughout the carnival.


Jockey Kevin Shea - Archipenko - 6th

It wasn’t Archie’s day today. He didn’t pick up. He just ran a bit flat.


Jockey Darren Beadman – Tuesday Joy- 9th

She was run off her legs. She’s just a bit dour now after her last couple of runs and is looking for more ground. In the end, it was a creditable effort.


Jockey Frankie Dettori – Lady Marian -16th

I had a bad trip. I was too wide all the way and she gave in.


Jockey Richard Hughes – Paco Boy - 8th

The draw didn’t help, but he travelled beautifully, if a bit too keen. I was keen for him to spit the dummy out so as to relax, but he was always doing a bit too much. If things had gone right, I might have been fourth, but I would have never won. He will be back on the grass in Britain.


Jockey Jamie Spencer – Charlie Farnsbarns - 12th

He ran well, but this was a hot race, too hot for him.


Jockey Weichong Marwing – Jay Peg – 11th

He found it a bit tough, from a wide gate and had really had enough before the turn. They were just too good for him tonight.


Jockey Ryan Moore – Presvis – 2nd

He flew home, but the winner slipped the field and I could never get near him in time.

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