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DUBAI: AFRICAN STORY IN FOCUS
by Geir Stabell / Globeform
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Dubai

Meydan: The Godolphin Mile (G2) is a race that has been dominated by the race sponsors over the years. The 'boys in blue' have won this contest seven times and one of their trainers, Saeed bin Suroor, has saddled the winner nine times. They combined to win with African Story, and, unless he gets rerouted to the Dubai World Cup (G1), he will be out to defend his title. He was an impressive comeback winner on Super Saturday.

A six-year-old son of Pivotal, African Story has six wins from 14 starts and he has also finished second or third on six occasions. One can safely say that is a model of consistency. And he is a good as ever, perhaps ready to even improve, and is a worthy favourite. He returned to racing action on March 9, and met a very competitive field in the Burj Nahaar (G3) over a mile on the main track. Mikael Barzalona, who after the race admitted that he had felt the race fit Moonwalk In Paris would win, had African Story in mid-division early on. «When we came out of the turn, and I saw that my horse was going better than Moonwalk In Paris, I thought we had a chance», said the French jockey. He had a chance, a big chance. African Story quickened up really well and found his way forward by the inside rail. He was in front with 300 metres to go, and soon gone. His 2 1/4-length win over outsider Capital Attraction was a very comfortable one. Moonwalk In Paris, who had won the Firebreak Stakes (G3) just over three weeks earlier, finished third, beaten four lengths by African Story.

This was African Story's first run since early May last year, when ran a good sixth to Xtension in the Champions Mile (G1) at Sha Tin in Hong Kong. This is a turf race and African Story is better on the Tapeta track. Still, he was beaten less than three lengths at Sha Tin, where finished close to seriously good turf performers like Lucky Nine and Ambitious Dragon. His UAE campaign last year was that of a fast improving miler. He began with a handicap win over Barbecue Eddie and Silver Ocean in a January handicap, and on World Cup night he powered home for a 4-length win in the Godolphin Mile (G2), beating Viscount Nelson with ease. Red Jazz took third for England and Richard's Kid finished fourth. Four lengths was also the winning margin when African Story landed last year's Burj Nahaar (beating Snaafy and Musir) and the enthusiastic gelding will be completing an unusual ' double-double' if successful on March 30. Give him a decent draw and he will probably do it.

The draw can have an impact in mile races over the Tapeta course, but perhaps not as big an impact as many seem to believe. The race gets a full field and horses breaking from the outside stalls can easily be at a disadvantage, though it depends on the horse's running style and wide posts do not necessarily spell doom and gloom. African Story broke from stall three last year, when his runner-up came from stall twelve. In last years Burj Nahaar, African Story started from stall four, and the second horse also then came from stall twelve. In this year's Burj Nahaar, African Story started from stall five and, remarkably, the runner-up Capital Attraction had gate twelve. So, based on these three races, we can say that stalls three, four and five are good, but also that it is possible to run well from stall twelve. Calming Influence won from stall four in 2010 (second had stall 14, third had stall 12) and in 2011 Skysurfers won the Godolphin Mile from stall 13.

African Story, who won in France as a three- and four-year-old (when trained by Andre Fabre), is a half-brother to two other winners, Storybook (won over a mile) and Sensibility (won over 2400 metres) and his winning dam, the Gone West daughter Blixen, is a daughter of the high class mare Danish, who won the 9-furlong Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup (G1) at Keeneland for trainer Christophe Clement and later ran second in the Flower Bowl Invitational Handicap (G1) over 10 furlongs at Belmont Park. Danish comes from the family of the excellent filly Mesopotamia.

UPDATE MARCH 21: AFRICAN STORY GOES FOR THE WORLD CUP





Last update: 2013-03-23 06:23:21 (First published: 2013-03-19 07:12:30 )

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