Defending Champion Monterosso Bids To Enter Dubai World Cup Record Books

Could Become First Horse To Defend Crown in US$10m Race

No horse has ever won the world’s richest horse race, the Group 1 US$10m Dubai World Cup, sponsored by Emirates Airline, twice but Godolphin’s Monterosso will attempt to remedy that fact when facing 12 rivals in the 2000m Tapeta feature on Saturday.

That statistic may sound alarming but, to clarify, only 1998 winner Silver Charm has actually attempted the feat, when running sixth the year after his victory.

Trained by Mahmood Al Zarooni, Monterosso and jockey Mickael Barzalona stormed home last year to deny stable companion, Capponi who is also in opposition again. Interestingly, three of the last four Dubai World Cup winners, Monterosso, Gloria De Campeao and Well Armed, were placed in the race the year before their big race victory. That statistic also bodes well for last year’s third, Planteur.

Al Zarooni said: “I am very happy that I won the Dubai World Cup last year with Monterosso and also had the second in Capponi. It will actually be my ‘winner’ this year for both horses to run in the race again - it is always difficult to keep horses at their very peak. Monterosso has come on for his first run and is in good form and doing OK but there is wear and tear. His training programme has not been totally smooth.

Last year he finished fourth on his prep run and then won the big race, improving by seven or eight lengths. This year, he finished 10th and has to improve by around 20 lengths to win! But I think he will run a better race than last time.

“Capponi had the summer off and has taken a long time to come to hand which is why he hasn’t had a prep run. There have been some issues but he is well at the moment and deserves to take his chance. The team are doing their best to get him ready for another genuine Dubai World Cup challenge.”

Fellow Godolphin trainer, Saeed bin Suroor, arguably holds a stronger hand with three runners, headed by Al Maktoum Challenge R2 and R3 winner Hunter’s Light. A dual Group 1 winner, he has won over course and distance and has yet to taste defeat, after four races, under jockey Silvestre de Sousa.

He is joined in the field by stable companions African Story, winner of last year’s Godolphin Mile but trying 2000m for the first time, and Kassiano, runner-up to Hunter’s Light in Al Maktoum Challenge R3.

Bin Suroor said: “Hunter’s Light is unbeaten in his last three races. He is a horse who is improving and a tough performer. He will be there at the end because he has a big heart. The 2000m is the best trip for him and he has pleased me in the run-up to this race - his biggest test to date. He really likes this track and the Tapeta surface. I think my three runners in the Dubai World Cup all have a good chance.

“African Story won the Godolphin Mile last year and I think his best trip will be 2000m which is why he is running in the Dubai World Cup this year. Everything has gone smoothly with his preparation - he is in good form and condition and it is all systems go. He can run a good race.
“Kassiano has won seven races and done really well this year, showing great improvement as he has gone on. He is in good form and hopefully still improving.”

The three-pronged American challenge looks strong with 2011 Kentucky Derby winner Animal Kingdom, trained by Graham Motion, joined by multiple Grade 1 winning mare, Royal Delta and multiple Group 1 winner Dullahan.

Royal Delta, trained by Bill Mott who saddled Cigar to win the inaugural Dubai World Cup in 1996, was almost knocked over in this race last year, while Dullahan’s trainer, Dale Romans, won this race in 2005 with Roses In May.

Planteur was third in this race last year and is one of three runners this year trained in the UK. He will be saddled by Marco Botti, son of an Italian racing dynasty who is really branching out successfully on his own and who has recently moved to a new yard in Newmarket.

His wife, Lucie, said: "Naturally, we are hoping Planteur can be the new yard’s first really big winner." Regarding tactics, she added: “We could lead, but we would be just as happy to sit behind the pace if it is decent and honest. The horse is coming into the race in good shape and we hope he can run a bit faster this year.”

There are few races on the Dubai World Cup card that South African Mike De Kock has yet to win but this one of them and he has one contender this year, Treasure Beach.

“We were very happy with him on Super Saturday and he ran a very good trial on his first all-weather start, staying on well having been last turning in,” said the trainer.

“He has definitely improved a lot, both mentally and physically since then and is continuing to do so. Perhaps ideally I would have preferred another couple of weeks but he is in good shape and we expect him to go well.”

With French training legend Andre Fabre saddling the newly-purchased Meandre, now sporting the silks of Ramzan Kadyrov, it promises to be a cracking renewal.