By Jason Ford
Aaron Gryder, winner of the last ever World Cup at Nad Al Sheba in 2009 with Well Armed, was in good form at Meydan Racecourse March 25 when discussing this year’s card. His mount in the $10 million Dubai Emirates World Cup (UAE-I) is Amor de Pobre, trained by Saudi Arabia-based American Jerry Barton. The 5-year-old gelded son of Stuka looks certain to start as a longshot, but Gryder is clearly looking forward to it and said his mount should not be discounted.
“Winning last year was obviously very special and Meydan is a remarkable facility,” said Gryder, who rode a winner on the new Tapeta surface at the final Meydan Carnival meeting last month. “To be invited to the Meydan Masters was a real honor and then to ride a winner a real bonus.
“Amor De Pobre has a better chance than he is being given credit for. His last race (third in a stakes race in Saudi Arabia Feb. 12) was very messy by all accounts and the trainer is pleased with him. I expect a good run.”
Amore de Pobre has hit the board in all nine of his starts, including a win in the group I El Derby in his native Chile in 2009.
Gryder, who is now based in Hong Kong, also rides Consul General for Saudi Arabia in the Godolphin Mile (UAE-II).
“I actually rode him at the Meydan Masters and he was an excellent third under top weight. He is a nice type and should have a chance in an open race.”
Gryder will have his third mount while wearing the Godolphin blue in the UAE Derby (UAE-II) aboard Siyaadah
** Ken Ramsey has tasted Dubai World Cup glory in 2005 with Roses in May and he is looking forward to this year’s race with the Mike Maker-trained Furthest Land
. The Kentucky-based owner sounded hopeful rather than confident with Furthest Land, who will be a longshot like he was when scoring the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (gr. I) in November.
“That win (with Roses in May) was amazing and the reception and hospitality we received was great,” said Ramsey. “We have obviously been keen to try again and here we are with a grade I winner who should enjoy the trip. It does look a very open renewal though and to get a place would be brilliant.”
** Henry Cecil trains Twice Over
, who was third to Zenyatta
in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) at Santa Anita in his first run on a synthetic surface. The trainer has been delighted with his charge’s preparation and said: “That was a very pleasing run at the Breeders’ Cup and it showed he can compete at this level on a similar surface. This has been his target ever since and he seems in great form.”
Twice Over is a three-time group stakes winner in England. He will break from post 11 in the World Cup.
** Just in front of Twice Over in the Breeders’ Cup was Gio Ponti
, who is expected to be sent off as the one of the favorites in the World Cup. His trainer Christophe Clement, who recently arrived in Dubai, was feeling optimistic about the dual Eclipse Award winner’s chances: “I have been getting bullish reports from the team since he arrived and I am not disappointed now that I have seen him in the flesh. His defeat on turf (in the Feb. 20 Tampa Bay Stakes) was not the end of the world and it is all about Saturday. Hopefully we have a big chance.”
** Marco Botti trains another likely World Cup favorite, Gitano Hernando
, who won the grade I Goodwood Stakes at Santa Anita last year and arrives in Dubai on the back of a win on a synthetic surface at Lingfield. Botti said: “It is great to have this kind of horse so early in my career and we have always had a lot of faith in him. This is a good race, obviously, but he deserves to take his chance and (jockey) Kieren (Fallon) has been very happy with him.”
** Brian Koriner saddles Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint winner California Flag
in the Al Quoz Sprint and said: “He is working very well and we could not be more pleased. He is giving me similar vibes to those he did before his win at the Breeders’ Cup.”
California Flag, a 6-year-old gelding, is a five-time stakes winner with more than $1 million in earnings for Hi Card Ranch, who also bred the son of Avenue of Flags. Joe Talamo will ride.
** Kinsale King
carries the U.S. hopes in the group I Dubai Golden Shaheen and trainer Carl O'Callaghan is pleased with his preparations: “I think he will be at his best on Saturday and he has taken the trip brilliantly. He seems to handle the surface and hopefully is a big player.”
Kinsale King, owned by Super Horse, enters off a win in the Palos Verdes Handicap (gr. II) at Santa Anita in December. Garrett Gomez has the mount.
** Trainer Mary Hartmann is hoping for a fast turf course for Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I) hopeful Presious Passion,
the likely pacesetter.
“Fast ground is the key to him,” Hartmann said of the Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Turf (gr. IT) runner-up. “He skips off it and can be hard to catch, so the faster it is on Saturday the better.”