Godolphin's Cavalryman is primed for a repeat bid in the $1 million Dubai Gold Cup (UAE-II) after a stirring track record-setting victory in the Nad Al Sheba Trophy (UAE-III) March 1 at Meydan Racecourse.
Silvestre De Sousa positioned Cavalryman in an ideal stalking spot behind three front-runners and rode him to the lead off the home turn. From there, the 8-year-old son of Halling romped away to a 5 1/2-length triumph in a record time of 2:56.48 for the 2,810 meters (about 1 3/4 miles) on good turf.
He was the 3-1 second choice in North American pools hosted by Kentucky-based AmWest Entertainment.
"He enjoys the trip," De Sousa said after the race, adding the veteran runner was "better than ever."
"I think we'll have a big shot on the big night."
The Dubai Gold Cup, run at 3,200 meters (about two miles) is among eight stakes on the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) card March 29 at Meydan. Cavalryman captured last year's edition by a comfortable three lengths.
Star Empire finished a hard-trying second in the Nad Al Sheba Trophy after settling at the back of the 12-horse field in the early running. Jockey Christophe Soumillon rode him across the track to the stands' side at the top of the straight to make his run, but he never got close to the winner.
Certerach finished third after rallying from mid-division, 1 1/2 lengths behind Star Empire. Simenon, the 2-1 favorite, was never a factor, finishing eighth after settling at the back of field in the early running.
Trained by Saeed bin Suroor, Cavalryman was making his first start in seven months. The French group I winner went winless in three starts after capturing the 2013 Dubai Gold Cup by three lengths from last season's Nad Al Sheba Trophy winner and stablemate Ahzeemah.
Cavalryman had pleased his connections with his training ahead of his return race.
"We were very confident coming into the race as he had been working very well at home and we knew he was fit for this seasonal return," De Sousa said. "For a stayer he has a great turn of foot and he really quickened when I asked him.
"He stays the 3,200 meters so, hopefully, will be a serious contender trying to win the Gold Cup again."
Darley-bred Cavalryman, who is out of the stakes-placed Highest Honor mare Silversword, improved his career line to 8-4-5 from 34 career starts. His victories include the 2009 Juddmonte Grand Prix de Paris (Fr-I) before he finished third in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (Fr-I).