Mike De Kock's Grand Emporium, favorite for the Godolphin Mile (UAE-II), may have been sporting new colors, but it was business as usual as he ran out a cozy winner of the mile dirt race Saturday at Nad Al Sheba. Purchased privately this week by H E Sheikh Rashid, the South African-bred 4-year-old gelded son of National Assembly was registering his second course and distance win of the season. He won the first round of the Maktoum Challenge (UAE-III) on the opening night of the Carnival over three months ago. Never far off the pace set by American challenger Tsigane, Weichong Marwing always looked in control on the winner and took him to dispute the lead about three furlongs out. Tsigane battled bravely for a furlong but gave way as Godolphin's Qais became the major challenger. However, his stamina for the mile has always been suspect and Grand Emporium powered all the way to the line, with Qais holding on for second and Tsigane battling on gallantly for third. The $600,000 winning purse is certainly a swift return on Sheikh Rashid's purchase and it will be interesting to see where he is campaigned next. America would surely be favorite as he clearly relishes the dirt. De Kock has applied for a satellite yard in Saratoga – though, of course, the horse's new owner may care to change trainers. De Kock said afterwards: "We always knew he was in with a big chance with his course and distance form franked on numerous occasions. Weichong (Marwing) has given him a great ride as they clearly did not go that quick as those prominent filled the first three places. "Future plans are up to his new owner, but it is a privilege to train for the Maktoums and that is the best possible start."
Patrick Valenzuela, the rider on Tsigane, said, "He ran a great race. He kind of fell asleep and put his head across the bars in the starting gate. So I had to shake him but then he got the lead and he ran really well."