Henry Cecil hoping to win the big prize

Dubai, UAE, March 25, 2011 - Henry Cecil-trained horses have triumphed all over the world, including in some of the most prestigious events in racing’s calendar. The US$10 Million Dubai World Cup however has so far eluded him, but he hopes to change that this Saturday when he saddles the Khalid Abdulla owned Twice Over.

With over 125 horses to look after at his home in Newmarket, which by the way includes 2000 Guineas and Epsom Derby favourite Frankel, he only made it out to Dubai on Thursday.

Friday morning, after having seen Twice Over canter under Tom Queally, he said: “I’m very happy with him and he looks really well. Because of his prep race, he has learned to handle the course and got used to it. He seems to be very well balanced and is getting used to it. So hopefully things will work out.”

Having Twice Over out early in Dubai was quite a drastic change in tactics from last year when Twice Over only arrived in Dubai a few days before the Dubai World Cup. At the time, his trainer fancied him a lot, but in the end, he could only finish tenth behind Gloria de Campeăo.

“I thought he would win last year,” Cecil admitted. “But he did get a bad bump and he couldn’t get in. Whether that was the reason I don’t know. He didn’t win.”

This season, Twice Over arrived much earlier in Dubai to run in the Group Two Al Maktoum Challenge Round II, which he won convincingly from Musir.

“The idea was to bring him over here and settle him in and get him into a race,” explained Cecil. “If he hadn’t handled the surface or hadn’t settled, I would have brought him right back. He seemed to do everything very nicely. He had a good blow on the back stretch and a good blow afterwards. But he seems to have come on a lot. Obviously he deserves to take his chance in the big one.”

And he added: “He’s wintered really well. Ever since Christmas he’s had a really lovely gentle preparation, I worked out day by day what we are going to do. So he came over here early and had his prep race. He acclimatised and he’s got used to the track and surface and is definitely in great form and moving very well. I think he is in great shape.”

The horse seems to be spot on, but the draw once again went against him when Twice Over was drawn 12. Cecil admitted to being a little bit disappointed, but said: “Hopefully, now that he has adapted himself to the track, he will cope with it better now. I think he is definitely better than last year.”

And then he corrected himself and said: “No, I know he is better than last year.”

For the 10-time champion trainer, that is quite a statement. But then again, why shouldn’t he be a bit bullish. After all, he has saddled 24 classic winners, holds the record of the most Royal Ascot winners and in 2010 his strike rate of 22% was among the highest.

In England, he is a legend and a victory of Twice Over in the Dubai World Cup would only confirm that he is a truly remarkable horseman. Yet Cecil is quick to point out that it is not only down to him when his horses do well, but to the entire team.

“It is important that Tom was here to ride him as I was at home where I had a lot of work to do. Luckily I have a very good team here. I had to train him over the telephone. My wife Jane came out a bit early and reports everything back to me. And I can change things. I have kept to the schedule I have, but you can always change things a little bit, like canter over five furlongs or six furlongs. I can’t train 125 horses at home and one here, so I had to delegate. But luckily I have a very good team.”

With that many victories to his name, one wonders how important the Dubai World Cup is to him, but he immediately made it very clear what it meant to him when he said: “It would be lovely to win this race, also for his owner and the entire team. All Group One races are important and the Dubai World Cup would be great to win.”