Cityscape Runs Away with Dubai Duty Free

Ciyscape unleashed blistering acceleration at the top of the stretch to turn the Group 1 US$5 million Dubai Duty Free, sponsored by Dubai Duty Free, into a procession at Meydan Racecourse on Saturday.

The six-year-old was ridden aggressively by James Doyle to lower the track record previously held by Mahbooba by 0.14 seconds. He tallied by 4¼ lengths from Mutahadee, who emerged from midfield to claim the runner-up berth, with City Style back in third place.

Winning trainer Roger Charlton was almost lost for words in the aftermath. “I can’t believe it,” he said. The race panned out absolutely as we thought it would. Await The Dawn weakened pretty quickly to leave us in front plenty early enough, but that wasn’t a problem.”

Cityscape was Doyle’s first winner on Dubai World Cup night. He will never have a more comfortable passage to the winner’s circle after Cityscape stalked Await The Dawn before usurping that front-runner soon after halfway in the 1,800m contest.

Doyle waited until the bright chestnut reached the straight before turning him loose.

“This horse has an amazing turn of foot,” the jockey said. “He just kept finding; he was even idling a little in the closing stages. It was a great feeling and the biggest day in my life.”

Cityscape’s broad white blaze makes him easy to spot within a herd of horses but he was out on his own for much of the race. This was a first Group 1 victory for a horse with a series of near-misses on his record – most notably in Hong Kong in December, when he was denied in a photo finish. For that reason Charlton, who trains Cityscape on the Berkshire Downs in England, was doubly delighted.

“Everyone keeps telling me the horse needs soft ground but he goes on anything. What he really enjoys is racing on a flat, level track. If we’d stayed at home we’d have had to keep avoiding Frankel (who is also owned by Prince Khalid Abdullah). It made sense to come here.”

Mutahadee finished well under Christophe Soumillon but never had a shot at the winner, who stopped the clock in 1 min 48.60secs. And while City Style ran to expectations in finishing third, the winner was in a class apart.

The three-pronged Hong Kong challenge, headed by Ambitious Dragon, failed to figure. The best of them was Xtension, who finished fifth. Dubawi Gold was withdrawn on veterinary advice just before he was due to load into the stalls. His withdrawal reduced the field to 15.