AN eight-year-old gelding once beaten 27 lengths in a Listed race at Chester is now the king of the world.
That was the improbable headline story at Meydan on Saturday as William Buick made the best possible start as retained jockey for Godolphin when winning the most valuable race on the planet aboard Prince Bishop.
The unconsidered 14-1 shot comprehensively defeated the talented American pair of California Chrome and Lea to spring a surprise in the Dubai World Cup.
Buick showed why he was head-hunted by Sheikh Mohammed as he cajoled Saeed bin Suroor’s evergreen Prince Bishop to land the coveted prize after having been detached in the early stages.
Somehow, Buick got Prince Bishop into contention to lead a furlong and a half out and land the spoils by two and three-quarter lengths from last year’s Kentucky Derby hero, California Chrome, with Lea third.
“This horse has class and he has a big heart,” said trainer Saeed bin Suroor.
It was a fine night for Britain and Ireland as the Tom Dascombe-trained Brown Panther struck in convincing style for his breeder and joint-owner, Michael Owen, in the Dubai Gold Cup.
Owen said: “He’s been a superstar from day one and this man (Dascombe) has trained him to perfection.”
Sole Power, meanwhile, finally won the Al Quoz Sprint at the fifth attempt with a customary late surge in the five-furlong Group One. Trainer Eddie Lynam said: “If I could, I’d love him to do it at Royal Ascot as well.”
It was a good night for France, too, as they picked up two Group Ones.
Dolniya led home a one-two for French-trained horses as she defeated Flintshire in the Dubai Sheema Classic, while Solow looked a top-class performer as he ran out a convincing winner of the Dubai Turf.
Gabrial showed a touch of class and the heart for a battle to win the Betway Lincoln at Doncaster, the first major race on the opening day of the British turf season.
Richard Fahey’s streetwise, but often unpredictable six-year-old was delivered with a precise challenge by Tony Hamilton to score at odds of 12-1.
Owner Dr Marwan Koukash said: “He’ll go to the Huxley Stakes over ten furlongs at Chester.”
Racegoers at Ascot have witnessed many great rides from Tony McCoy but perhaps fittingly none better than yesterday on his last-ever appearance there on Un Ace in the Waitrose Novices’ Handicap Chase.
The pair looked well beaten heading down the back straight as Richard Johnson shot clear on Royal Regatta.
His stride notably shortened approaching the last, but he still had a sizeable advantage.
McCoy sensed an opportunity, though, just as he has done for the past 21 years, and Un Ace (11-4 favourite) stayed on all the way to the line to claim a narrow victory in dramatic fashion by a short-head.
Un Ace is trained by Kim Bailey, who was honoured to give McCoy his final winner at Ascot.
“That was as good as I’ve seen, to do it on his last day here was fantastic,” Bailey told Racing UK. “The horse hated the ground but I couldn’t take him out on his last ride. He looked well beaten going down the back and to be fair only AP could probably have got him home.
“The horse has been a star for us this year. Aintree is a not a place for him, though we were always trying to plan a spring campaign.”
The Chuckmeister has been fairly disappointing in three hurdling starts this season but it would be no surprise today to see him raise his game significantly as he tackles fences in the WPS Wealth Auto Enrolment Novices’ Limited Handicap Chase at Chepstow.
The Irish-bred six-year-old was snapped up for £43,000 by champion trainer Paul Nicholls after a point-to-point success at Rathcannon last autumn, but he has so far failed to provide much of a return on that not insignificant investment.
He looked tapped for toe when finishing a well-beaten third on his Rules debut at Taunton in early January and a more positive ride at Ludlow the following month failed to yield any improvement.
The Chuckmeister returned to Taunton for his handicap bow a couple of weeks ago and another no-show confirmed hurdling is just not for him.
However, he would not be the first Ditcheat inmate to look a different horse over the larger obstacles and he looks a dour stayer, so the testing nature of Chepstow should play to his strengths.
Off a mark of just 112, it is hard to see where he will go next if he is unable to make his presence felt on his chasing introduction.
Argot is an obvious contender for the Racing UK Profits Returned To Racing Maiden Hurdle at Kempton.
The four-year-old was moderate on the level, but has run three fair races since going jumping and has crucially made progress with each start.
Charlie Longsdon’s charge was a clear second on his latest attempt at Ludlow and an ounce more improvement will see him involved in the business end once more.
The excellent form of the yard as the season enters its final throes adds further confidence.
2:30 The Eaglehaslanded
3:35 The Chuckmeister
4:10 The Darling Boy
4:40 Rock N Rhythm
5:15 Marie Des Anges
2:45 Herbert Park
3:15 Midnight Chorister
4:20 Fond Memory (nap)
4:55 Poker School
5:25 Robins Reef
2:55 Ready Token
3:25 Seventh Sky
4:00 Saint John Henry
4:30 Hi Vic
5:05 Walking In The Air