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Dubai World Cup

Albertus Maximus - the World Cup favourite
by Geir Stabell / Globeform
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English bookmakers opened a book on the Dubai World Cup (G1) a few weeks back, and put up the Shadwell Farm contender Albertus Maximus as the 4-1 favourite.

That was prior to his win in the Donn Handicap (G1) in Florida, and the odds have now shortened right the down to 7-4. So often a good pointer to the World Cup, the 9-furlong Donn at Gulfstream Park is seen as the key prep race to the $6-million race coming up at Nad Al Sheba on March 28. How strong an influence has the Donn had on the DWC over the years?

Well, pretty strong. In six of the 13 runnings of the Dubai World Cup, a horse has finished in the top two in both races, and Albertus Maximus has an excellent chance of winning the big race.

A North American dirt star does not have to win the Donn to justify a trip to Dubai, but trainer Kiaran McLaughlin was well pleased when his charge beat Finallymadeit to land the Donn, in what was his first start back since Albertus Maximus took the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita last October. More importantly, his win at Gulfstream Park proved that Albertus Maximus can handle a conventional dirt track. His best previous form had come over artificial surfaces.

Shadwell bought this son of Albert the Great after his win at the Breeders’ Cup, and transferred him from trainer Vladimir Cerin to McLaughlin. The Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile was Albertus Maximum’s fifth win in 15 starts and he was visiually most impressive as he beat Rebellion with a storming late run at Santa Anita. Though his best result in G1 company last year was a third in the Goodwood Stakes last autumn, behind Well Armed, another World Cup contender. Albertus Maximus has clearly improved since and he looks the one to beat in the World Cup.

Kiaran McLaughlin landed the Donn – Dubai World Cup double for Shadwell Farm two years ago, when they teamed up for some great racing days win Invasor. Cigar (1996) and Captain Steve (2001) also completed this double, while Roses in May ran second in the Donn before winning the World Cup in 2005, and Brass Hat won the Donn prior to his good run behind Electrocutionist at Nad Al Sheba three years ago (he finished second but was later disqualified).

Let me repeat this stat once more; in six of the 13 runnings of the Dubai World Cup, a horse has finished in the top two in both races. This year’s Donn winner is a high class horse on an upward curve, trained by a man who knows what it takes to win the world’s richest horserace, and ridden by a man who is in the form of his life. Albertus Maximus may not be another Invasor, but he may not need to be, and his credentials make him the top contender in the 2009 Dubai World Cup (G1).

Geir Stabell

Published: 2009-03-15 08:58:46

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