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Dubai Gold Cup: Opinion Poll in focus
by Geir Stabell / Globeform
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Opinion Poll was Godolphin's best stayer in England last year, and this little warrior is a remarkable horse indeed. He raced nine times in 2011 and was only once worse than third, when fourth in one of the best staying races in France early on is his campaign. He is boasting a solid 82% top three finish strike rate.

The son of Halling was beaten twice by the Irish star Fame And Glory, so we can't call him a champion, but Opinion Poll himself won two prestigious races over 2 miles (3200 metres). He beat another horse representing the 'boys in blue', Lost In The Moment, by a head to win the Goodwood Cup (G2) down on the south coast of England last July. Three weeks later, Opinion Poll travelled to the big York meeting up in the north of the country, to contest the Lonsdale Cup (G2).

The competition was tougher at York, where he was facing nine rivals, and many also wondered how Opinion Poll would keep his form, after such though races during the summer months. Prior to his win at Goodwood, he had been second to Fame And Glory in the prestigious Gold Cup (G1) over 2 miles (4000 m.) at Royal Ascot. These events had not dented his enthusiasm, however. As always, Opinion Poll looked an absolute picture in the paddock at York, and he started 3-1 favourite. That was to prove a great value bet. Duncan, a horse who went on to win a Group One on his next start, was a stern rival but Opinion Poll was too go. He kept on finding more under pressure, as Dettori asked for one final push close home, and he held Duncan by length. Bergo was another 4 lengths adrift in third, while Harris Tweed who had been a good second to Await The Dawn at Royal Ascot in June finished fourth.

In the autumn Opinion Poll had to settle for second twice, at Doncaster and Ascot. The Irish trained three-year-old Saddler's Rock (a name to note for 2012) got the better of him and won the Doncaster Cup (G2) by 4 lengths, as Opinion Poll was below his best. He turned up also for the British Champions Long Distance Cup (G3) at Ascot in October, and performed gamely for second, 1 lengths behind Fame And Glory. Opinion Poll was runner-up once more on his seasonal reappearance at Meydan in early March this year. His stable companion Fox Hunt beat him by 2 lengths in the Nad Al Sheba Trophy (G3).

Opinion Poll finished third in the Dubai Gold Cup (G3) last year, when the race was staged earlier at the Carnival. He probably needed the run last time out and could well bounce back to winning form on World Cup night. Particularly if we see a strongly run race where stamina comes fully into play at the finish.

Globeform 119

Published: 2012-03-21 06:14:15

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