Edited Dubai Racing Club Report
Richard Hannon, whose confidence plummeted like a stone when Paco Boy was handed the 13 stall for the March 28 Dubai Duty Free (UAE-I) when the post position draw was announced, said that jockey Richard Hughes would have to “drop him out and hope he gets the breaks.”
Hannon, whose initial reaction to the bombshell was “we might as well jump on the next plane home,” gained precious little comfort from the statistics, which show that two recent winners of this $5 million race -- Elvstroem in 2005 and Jay Peg 12 months ago -- defied the 14 stall.
He said: “They both broke fast and crossed over to make all the running, but with the doubt about Paco Boy getting the extra 195 yards, there is no way we can go out and make it, so Hughesie will just have to take his time and hope that he gets some luck. Linngari was second from stall 13 two years ago, having been dropped out, and we’ll have to adopt similar tactics to that.”
Apart from the draw, everything has gone smoothly with Paco Boy’s preparation, and Hannon added: “You don’t get a horse fit in three days, so all the fast work was done at home, and he has just cantered on the track since he came here.
“He is not very big, but he is a hardy little fellow and, though Hughesie and Ryan (Moore) are adamant that he will stay, I am not so sure. The fact that he is unbeaten in five races over seven furlongs suggests there has to be doubts.”
Hyperbaric’s trainer, Julio Canani, has made at least 10 trips to Dubai and said he was completely surprised to awake Thursday morning and see rain outside his hotel window.
“Someone called me from home in California during the night to tell me that it was raining in Dubai; I didn’t believe it,” Canani said. “They were right.”
Hyperbaric, who enters the $5 million Duty Dubai Free riding a four-race win streak, has competed once over a course listed as “good”; finishing second in the allowance race at Santa Anita in 2008.
Canani would prefer firm footing but was philosophical about the potential for a course with give to it.
“What will be, will be,” he said. “Everybody will be in the same situation.”
After watching Hyperbaric gallop on the turf Thursday, Canani said he felt there is no reason to school the 6-year-old in the paddock to familiarize him with his new surroundings.
“He is schooled enough,” Canani said. “It’s up to him now.”
Two days after his four-furlong (approximately 800-meter) workout, IEAH Stables’ and partners’ Kip Deville returned to Nad al Sheba after a day off on Wednesday. Ridden by assistant trainer Michelle Nevin, the big gray Oklahoma-bred had the dirt track all to himself as he jogged once around in the opposite direction from the way racing is conducted.
Displaying a bit of sassiness and a desire to do more, Kip Deville shook his head several times as he was returning to the backstretch gap and tried to canter down the horse path on the way back to the quarantine barn area.
Kip Deville drew post seven in the Dubai Duty Free. He will be one of 10 grade or group I winners in the race.
Ryan Moore has the mount on Presvis for Luca Cumani in the Dubai Duty Free, and is expecting a good run from this improving performer, on whom he has already won two handicaps at this year’s Dubai International Racing Carnival. He went on: “I quite fancy mine to go well, although I wouldn’t want too much more rain for him. But for me this is the toughest race on the night.”
Moore has firsthand experience of Paco Boy, whom he rates as a big danger, having ridden him to win the group II Hungerford Stakes over 1400m (seven furlongs) at Newbury last August. “I think he’ll get the trip OK, he didn’t show me any signs of stopping that day, but now of course I’m rather hoping that I’m wrong!”
“I’ve also got a lot of respect for the Japanese mare Vodka, whom I’ve ridden against in the Japan Cup. She can find trouble in her races, but if all goes right for her, she’ll be another big danger. She’s got some engine for sure.”
Australian contender Niconero is drawn immediately outside Vodka in stall four and his jockey Craig Williams is hopeful the great Japanese mare might ‘give him a drag into the race.’
“My horse is in good shape,’ said Williams, “I’m really happy with the progress he’s made in his work from Tuesday to Thursday. He worked six furlongs (1200m) this morning and was nice and relaxed and from barrier four he’s going to get his chance.’
While the rain may have been an early dampener on Breakfast with the Stars proceedings, it certainly didn’t perturb the connections of Australian mare Tuesday Joy.
“God loves me, this is just what she needs. We don’t want the track too firm so I’m praying that it just keeps raining,’ said Tuesday Joy’s owner John Singleton.
Tuesday Joy did her usual striding work on the turf this morning and connections are at least pleased with her condition. “She’s been set for the race and she’s done well so let’s go.” Singleton said.
Last year’s winner Jay Peg has had two runs back from a spell which trainer Herman Brown described as a promising fourth before a good second – at his latest outing - behind Balius in the group II Jebel Hatta Dahaar over Saturday’s distance on March 5.
“He needed some surgery to clean up his knee and we sent him to England to convalesce,” said Brown.
“When he came back into training he was quite big and he really needed his first-up run. It was a promising effort, but his last start second was very good.
“He has trained on nicely since that run and when I weighed him this morning he was down to his winning weight (498kg) of last year.
“He’s back to his right weight. I think he’s right back to his best and he looks great.
“The timing is good again for another shot at this race,” said Brown. “But it’s a hard race to be overly confident.
“However he’s right where we want him at this stage in the lead up to the race.”
Katsuhiko Sumii is expecting a big run from Vodka who had her exercise rider Norihiko Kishimoto on board for an easy canter of a lap of the dirt course followed by 30 minutes of walking exercise.
Sumii said: “I didn’t want her to risk injury or find trouble with the softish track condition brought about by last night’s rain, so I told the exercise rider to check the track and give her an easy canter.”
Vodka’s racing manager, Keita Tanaka commented, “Our horse has settled very well. Even after she breezed, she’s eaten up so well. She will make an appearance on the dirt course for a canter tomorrow.”