Jack Hobbs begins to clear away from his Sheema Classic rivals
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Feature race still iconic
The Pegasus World Cup may have dethroned the Dubai equivalent as the world’s richest race but what Saturday’s display by Arrogate proved is that the Meydan feature is still by far the more important contest.
When Arrogate’s racing career comes to a close, it will not be his canter around Gulfstream Park that racing fans talk about again and again. As well as recalling his brilliant Breeders’ Cup duel with California Chrome (just how good was he, by the way?) they will say his legacy was sealed with Saturday’s monstrous performance in the desert.
No amount of UFC star Conor McGregor prancing around naked on a horse in a bid to ramp up the excitement will change that any time soon.
Jack is back
Jack Hobbs has always been a beautiful specimen to behold but as seasons go, his 2016 was rank ugly.
John Gosden expected the son of Halling to improve with age but it would have been a leap of faith to expect the kind of performance he put in on Saturday when swatting aside a Dubai Sheema Classic field that included last year’s winner Postponed, the excellent Highland Reel and a talented filly in Seventh Heaven.
Postponed went on to dominate the middle distance scene after winning last year and as long as Almanzor keeps out of his way, it seems likely Jack Hobbs will be the one to beat in races like the Coronation Cup and Juddmonte International.
Jack Hobbs finished third behind Almanzor in the Champion Stakes last October and a rematch between the two, perhaps at Royal Ascot, would be eagerly anticipated.
Postponed has questions to answer
While Jack Hobbs came out of the Sheema Classic with the future looking bright, it is a case of back to the drawing board for the Postponed team after another disappointing run.
He is not at his best on such a wet surface, of course, but Postponed has now turned in three below-par efforts in a row, which has to be a concern.
As an entire, he will be off to stud at some point relatively soon and owner Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum would presumably rather that happened before a poor run extended so far as to quell what excitement would surround his heading to stud.
It is too soon to write him off completely but Postponed needs to get his act together fast and with Jack Hobbs, Almanzor and even Minding on the middle distance scene this year, he will not be having things all his own way this season.
Rain would see Cups head to France
Plenty would be disappointed were we to have a wet summer but one man who will be delighted with rain is Alain de Royer-Dupre.
The trainer is eyeing some of Britain’s top staying prizes with Vazirabad, who once again proved himself to be among Europe’s finest stayers with a second straight win in the Dubai Gold Cup.
Now a Group 1 race, De Royer-Dupre has the Goodwood Cup in his sights, while the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot could also be on the agenda and if the going for either comes up anything like soft, his five-year-old will take some beating.
Bad news for British trainers perhaps but not for racegoers, who would get to enjoy the brilliant Christophe Soumillon and Vazirabad up close.
Thunder set to rumble in Kentucky
The decision to send Thunder Snow, who had looked a potential Qipco 2,000 Guineas candidate, to Dubai to embark on a dirt campaign seemed surprising to some but the son of Helmet has proven himself to be a high class performer on the surface.
His win in the UAE Derby was impressive and Saeed Bin Suroor seems keen to travel to the USA and take a shot at the Kentucky Derby.
No European trained horse has landed the famous race but in an open year Godolphin’s charge looks to be a genuine contender, with connections having paid $6,000 to enter the Triple Crown picture.
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