Viscount Nelson Masters Al Fahidi Fort
by Mary Schweitzer
Date Posted: 2/16/2012 3:58:50 PM
Last Updated: 2/19/2012 2:35:12 PM

Viscount Nelson rallies to win the Al Fahidi Fort at Meydan.
Photo: Andrew Watkins/Dubai Racing Club

Viscount Nelson turned in a career-best performance to win the $250,000 Al Fahidi Fort Sponsored by Al Tayer Motors (UAE-IIT) at Meydan Racecourse Feb. 16. The eight-furlong turf event was the highlight of the ninth night of racing in the Dubai World Cup Carnival.

Formerly trained in Ireland by Aidan O’Brien, the 5-year-old son of Giant's Causeway   was transferred to Mike de Kock late last year, and now races for a partnership that includes C. Haynes, Ms. Partridge, and de Kock. The Al Fahidi Fort was the second start for Viscount Nelson since the switch; on Jan. 20 the horse finished second to stablemate Mutahadee in a nine-furlong turf handicap.

A field of 13 went postward in the Al Fahidi Fort, with Master of Hounds and Rio de La Plata going off as the joint 2-1 favorites. Viscount Nelson, whose most recent victory came in June of last year, was sent off at 11-1.

At the start, it was Snaafy and Do It All who shot to the front. They were soon joined by Maraheb, and those three led the field through the opening furlongs. Jockey Tadhg O’Shea had defending titleholder Derbaas just behind them in fourth, as Master of Hounds saved ground along the rail in fifth. Kevin Shea was content to let Viscount Nelson race toward the back of the pack, settling him in 10th.

As the field entered the home straight Snaafy continued to cling to a slight lead over Do It All, with Derbaas ranging up on their outside. Viscount Nelson began to make steady progress on the leaders by weaving through traffic, but Master of Hounds found himself stuck behind a wall of horses with nowhere to go.

With two furlongs left to run, Derbaas got to the front as Snaafy began to fade. Albaasil, under a strong drive by Richard Hills, drew alongside Derbaas and the two horses matched strides as they drove for the wire.

In deep stretch Viscount Nelson took over, edging clear in the final strides to win by a half-length over Albaasil. Master of Hounds, who did not get free of traffic until late in the race, had to settle for third, one length further back. Rio de La Plata was never a factor and finished seventh.

The final time for the mile was 1:38.13 over a turf course listed as good.

The Al Fahidi Fort was the first group stakes win for Viscount Nelson, who improved his overall record to four wins from 16 starts. The $150,000 winner’s share of the purse increased his earnings to $517,647.

Viscount Nelson was bred in Kentucky by Barronstown Stud. He is out the mare Imagine, a daughter of Sadler’s Wells who was named champion 3-year-old filly in England in 2001. In addition to Viscount Nelson, Imagine has produced Horatio Nelson, a group I-winner in France, and the multiple stakes-placed Red Rock Canyon.



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