Victory Moon Gallops Into World Cup Picture

Victory Moon Gallops Into World Cup Picture
Photo: Dubai Racing Club/Andrew Watkins
Victory Moon wins the final round of the Maktoum Challenge en-route to the Dubai World Cup.
by Jason Ford
If there was any doubt that South Africa's Victory Moon was the real thing then he dispelled all such thoughts when winning the Maktoum Challenge Round 3 (UAE-II) over the ten-furlong course.

Trained by Mike De Kock, the 4-year-old son of Al Mufti, who won both the UAE 2,000 Guineas and Derby last year, broke prominently but was restrained by Weichong Marwing who was content to let Frankie Dettori go on aboard Naheef, with the Turkish challenger Dinyeper in close proximity. Dettori set a moderate pace on the Godolphin horse, with the Turkish runner on his outside. Marwing forced to sit and suffer on the rail in third whilealways travelling supremely well.

It was a case of waiting for the gap for Victory Moon, who captured the Maktoum Challenge Round 2 (UAE-III) earlier.

The Godolphin horse dropped away about the furlong pole and Marwing was able to switch his mount wide. The response was instant. He soon drew level with the gallant Dinyeper and strode away for a convincing victory.

The jockey was impressed: "He has picked up really well and has run three races in one. He has jumped well and travelled, which he never does and was going so well throughout the race. There was no room in the straight and I just had to wait and wait but when the gap opened he was immense and devoured the ground.

"That was a great effort."

The trainer was equally pleased: "Everything went wrong during the race – it was slowly run which really did not suit but he has done it well when the gap opened," De Kock said. "We have to be very pleased with that and the race will have to be run to suit on the big night compared to tonight.

"We are delighted."

Victory Moon arrived in the UAE last year as the winner of his sole start in South Africa and immediately landed a six-furlong race at Jebel Ali, needing every inch and the punishing gradient to snatch the spoils in the shadow of the post. He was then very impressive when stepped up to 1,700 meters at Nad al Sheba and was the facile winner of the Al Nakhlee on Boxing Day. Stepped up in class for his next outing, he used every yard to land the one-mile UAE 2,000 Guineas in a thrilling finish. A furlong out he looked well beaten, but once Wayne Smith asked him for a final effort the horse responded in terrific fashion and swooped fast and late to break the Godolphin stranglehold on that race.

He suffered his first defeat behind the Godolphin's Inamorato in the Al Bastikiya over 1,900 meters on Super Saturday, conceding the winner a lot of weight with a penalty for his group III win on top of the Southern Hemisphere weight allowance he was conceding.

After his UAE Derby win last year, he was campaigned in Europe before returning to the Emirates in November.

He is a half-brother to Kelly, who failed to make much impression in the UAE last year but is a group I winner in South Africa. Their dam, Dancing Flower, is a Dancing Champ half-sister to the group I-placed Wild Cocktail, while their dam, Wild Hyacinth was group I-placed and is a full-sister to Classic-placed Regal Blue. This is the family of South African Champions Turncoat and Imperious Sue.

Al Mufti is a multiple champion sire in South Africa and a son of Roberto. He is a half-brother to Wolfhound (also now resident in South Africa), Deerhound and Foxhound. The names Summer Squall and A P Indy are close by in his pedigree, with Bite The Bullet and Lemon Drop Kid also quite prominent.

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