Yoshito Yahagi rolls the dice with Panthalassa; all the Wednesday trackwork news

Wednesday, trackwork notes


Group 1 Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates Airline

Last-start Group 1 Saudi Cup (1,800m) winner Panthalassa drew plenty of eyes, with last year’s Group 1 Dubai Turf dead-heater working alongside his stablemate and fellow defending champion Bathrat Leon.

Trainer Yoshito Yahagi made his first appearance trackside to cast his eye over his horses and was pleased with his impressions three days out.

“I’m satisfied with how my horses moved this morning,” said Yahagi, who watched the gallop alongside Panthalassa’s regular rider Yutaka Yoshida. “They arrived in good order and I think they are ready for Saturday. It has been an advantage to work here for a month since Saudi Arabia.”

Yahagi said that he had been weighing up whether to head to the Dubai Turf again with Panthalassa before deciding to continue on dirt at his second Middle East campaign.

“It was a pretty difficult decision to go to the Dubai World Cup instead of the Dubai Turf with Panthalassa but, given he won the Saudi Cup, we felt he deserved his chance. Why not? The dirt is more testing than in Riyadh but he is getting used to it.

“Of course I am worried about the extra distance, the extra furlong, but I have to trust him and how he will manage as well as our jockey, Yutaka Yoshida.”

The majority of Japan’s eight Dubai World Cup runners took to the dirt for a strong hit-out, including T O Keynes with new partner Oisin Murphy in the saddle and his last-start Kawasaki Kinen conqueror Ushba Tesoro under Yuga Kawada.

However, the Tetsuya Kimura-prepared Geoglyph did something few World Cup runners will have done before, taking to the Meydan turf in partnership with stablemate Equinox for his major gallop of the week.

“He is exactly where I want him to be and reminds me of how he is when he is at home at Miho [training centre],” Kimura said.

Chase Chamberlin, co-owner of Country Grammer: I watched him train on the training track this morning and he looks fantastic. He looks to have really come out of his race in Saudi Arabia well and we are looking forward to Saturday night.

"Last night, I went for a walk with my girlfriend at Meydan and once we walked by the paddock all the emotions came jumping back from last year’s World Cup victory. I was in tears last year in the winner’s circle and I’m sure if it can happen again, the same tears will come out again. I love this horse. He means the world to us.”

Amador Sanchez, trainer of Super Corinto: "We believe that the distance of the Dubai World Cup will favor Super Corinto more than the Godolphin Mile. If he is a fast horse, he has a lot of resistance. Together with the team we think that he will favor the distance.

“We are very happy to participate on this big day in Dubai. Arriving with two horses to this type of race is incredible, a dream come true. The horses are perfect, they had a very good trip and they have acclimatized perfectly.

Tadhg O’Shea, jockey of Remorse: “He ran good in the race last year and was about four and a half lengths behind Country Grammer. He didn’t enjoy Saudi too much and the nine furlongs was a bit on the sharp end and he is happy to be back at home.

"Caroline Seemar (trainer Bhupat Seemar’s wife) rides him and she’s super happy with him. Obviously, Country Grammer looks the horse there again to beat and of course the Japanese are very strong, but let’s hope we are a bit closer to Country Grammer this time around.”

Bhupat Seemar, trainer of Bendoog: “He had his gallop on Monday and he galloped really well. Everything I wanted to see in him, he’s shown the right signs. I would like for Bendoog to be drawn anywhere between three and six. He was second to Algiers and then we ran him on that really really rainy day when he did not like the sloppy track. He ran on Super Saturday and should give a good account of himself."


Group 1 Longines Dubai Sheema Classic

Reigning Japanese Horse of the Year Equinox completed his final major work ahead of Saturday’s feature with a strong gallop on the Meydan turf that captivated trackwork watchers, becoming a social media sensation within minutes of his breeze.

Although times are not routinely recorded in the mornings at Meydan, Japanese media clocked his final 200m at a blistering 11.1 seconds and his final 400m in 22.4 seconds – all completed very comfortably on the bridle.

It was a work that excited many onlookers, including his trainer Tetsuya Kimura: “This is exactly what I hoped for. It was good work and he is continuing to improve. I am excited for Saturday’s race.”

Douglas Whyte faced the world’s media for the first time in his role as a trainer, which admitted felt a lot different to turning up as a jockey.

“As a jockey, you’d have complete control once you get on your horse. I’d have done as much form as I can, I would know the race as well as I could and then I’d execute. As a trainer, you lose that control once the jockey is legged up and so it is certainly a challenge, but a great one at that.”

Whyte’s Dubai Sheema Classic runner Russian Emperor had a light morning today after he completed his preparations with a strong turf gallop yesterday morning.

He said: “He had an easy morning after his gallop yesterday. He’ll be back on the main track tomorrow morning and I’ll be on him again. He’ll have a good stretch, but he’s fit and there’s not much more I can do.”


Group 1 Dubai Turf sponsored by DP World

A number of Dubai Turf hopefuls were ridden by their raceday pilots this morning, including Japanese contenders Danon Beluga (Joao Moreira) and Serifos (Damian Lane).

Jockey Neil Callan, who was based at Sha Tin for almost a decade before returning to the UK, is rekindling his relationship with Hong Kong by partnering Glorious Dragon for trainer Pierre Ng. He had his first chance to ride the grey on the dirt this morning.

Callan said: “The Hong Kong racing fans are very special to me and it has meant a lot to be able to connect with so many people from my Hong Kong days this morning. It is heartwarming that I can represent them here at Meydan on Saturday.

“Pierre was always going to make a good trainer and to see him with two runners abroad in his first season, he’s proving that now. Glorious Dragon felt good this morning, he’s really enjoyed the trip away and it seems to have freshened him up. We’re under no illusions about the task he faces but he feels great, so hopefully he can earn some prize-money.”

David O’Meara, trainer of Shelir: “He’s had just a light canter this morning, we just took him down to the five (furlong pole) and let him come down the straight lightly. He’s a horse who’s hard enough on himself so he doesn’t really need a lot of galloping. I might give him a little bit more work tomorrow but I’ll see how he is.”

Joint trainer John Gosden was on hand to witness Lord North have an easy canter on the Tapeta training track in company with Trawlerman (Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup sponsored by Al Tayer Motors) and Mostahdaf (Group 1 Longines Dubai Sheema Classic).

Gosden said: “The horses seem happy and well and the humidity has dropped, which is very important. When I arrived at the airport at midnight it was steaming like a sauna, but the humidity has dropped off which is great.

“They’ve had a nice routine canter on this excellent training track and all three horses seem happy. We’ll probably have a look at the turf under the lights tomorrow morning.”


Group 1 Dubai Golden Shaheen sponsored by Nakheel

Twice second in the Dubai Golden Shaheen previously, Red Le Zele enters Saturday’s dirt sprint off a closing second in the Group 1 February Stakes at Tokyo, his best effort in that race from three attempts.

Assistant Keisuke Fujimaki said of the Takayuki Yasuda-trained contender: “He was so full of energy, you wouldn’t think that he is a seven-year-old now. He was moving so well and so straight and he was dynamic. He’s fresh, too, so we are hopeful that it is third time lucky.”

Amador Sanchez, trainer of Super Ocho: “Super Ocho for me is the fastest horse in the USA. He is very difficult to control so it will depend a lot on the speed of the race and the jockey for tactics.”


Group 2 UAE Derby sponsored by Atlantis The Royal

Leandro Moro, assistant to Doug O’Neill, trainer of Ah Jeez and Tall Boy: “We are very happy with the draw of both our horses with Ah Jeez in four and Tall Boy in 10. With Tall Boy we really like the outside draw and the fact that he will not spend much time in the stalls. Both horses had energetic gallops and stood in the gates before walking home which is just routine procedure for us on race week.

“I could not be any happier with how they are coming into this race. They will train just one more day on the main track Thursday, and then have an easy hack in the yard Friday morning.”


Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup sponsored by Al Tayer Motors

David O’Meara, trainer of Get Shirty: “He’s just had a nice canter this morning. He’s fit as he’s been here all winter. It’s just going to be a case of keeping his legs moving and keeping him in good form coming into the race.”

Ian Williams, trainer of Enemy: “I was pleased with him this morning, he looks nice and fresh but not too fresh. He moved well and Antonia who’s ridden him in all his work since he’s been out here said he was in great form, so I’m looking forward to running him on Saturday.

“He took the eye this morning, I must say. The first day I saw him in Saudi he looked poor and dry and that wasn’t a nice way to see him three days before the race. I couldn’t be happier here. He worked over a mile and a quarter, gradually quickening up before doing a nice canter to finish. We were just giving him a blow and to keep that engine fresh.”


Group 2 Godolphin Mile sponsored by One Zaabeel

Defending champion Bathrat Leon entered under the radar last year, but this year he is a headline horse, particularly coming off his win on turf in Saudi Arabia.

Trainer Yoshito Yahagi said: “We saw last year how much he enjoyed the Meydan dirt and he has enjoyed it again since coming back. I don’t think the turf straight would suit as much as a turn on dirt, so we are going for the Godolphin Mile again. He is going even better this year as we saw in Saudi Arabia last start so hopefully he can lead and win again.”

It has been almost a decade since jockey Kosei Miura made his one and only appearance at Meydan, riding Dear Domus into eighth in the 2015 UAE Derby won by Mubtaahij. He returned this morning to take Win Carnelian through his paces ahead of the six-year-old’s dirt debut in the Godolphin Mile on Saturday.

Trainer Yuichi Shikato said: “He can sometimes get up in the barriers, which he did in the Mile Championship. In Dubai, there are barrier attendants which should help and hopefully he can move past that. My goal is to win a Group 1 with him and develop him into a stallion but, even though this is a Group 2, this is worth good money and I have been looking towards this race for quite some time."


PA Group 1 Dubai Kahayla Classic sponsored by Emaar

Tadhg O’Shea, jockey of AF Alajaj: “He’s got to stretch out a bit further than normal. He won quite over seven furlongs the Group 2 at Abu Dhabi so he’s drawn Gate 3 which is a positive and he’s a strong traveller in his races and they’ll go fast as we know, so I’m looking forward to it.”

Image DRC

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