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Dubai World Cup

Dubai World Cup: Gitano Hernando in focus
by Handicappers / Globeform
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A British bred, American owned runner trained in England by and Italian, Gitano Hernando will be having his second crack at the Dubai World Cup (G1).

He was all the rage in the betting prior to the 2010 edition and, somewhat surprisingly, Gitano Hernando was favourite when the gates opened. He ran a good race but, like others in the field, he was badly compromised by the lack of pace and could finish no better than sixth. That was not his true form.

Five horses ran faster though he was beaten no more than 2 lengths by the winner, Gloria de Campeao. This performance did not truly reflect Gitano Hernando's abilities. Back in October 2009, he won the Goodwood Stakes (G1) at Santa Anita in California, beating that year's Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner Colonel John in a driving finish. Richard's Kid finshed third. That was Gitano Hernando's first start outside England, and his win in the sunshine state marked clear improvement on previous form for the Marco Botti trainee.

A trip back to Santa Anita for the Breeders' Cup came under consideration, but his connections decided to give him a break and take aim at Meydan instead. Gitano Hernando was still a relatively inexperienced horse and the patient approach looked like bearing fruits as he resurfaced in a minor event at Lingfield Park in February last year. Finishing his race off really strongly, he outclassed the race-fit rival Suits Me to the tune of 4 lengths. Like at Santa Anita, Kieren Fallon was in the saddle, sporting a satsified grin as he came back to the winners' circle. The break had clearly done Gitano Hernando a lot of good, and it was all systems go for Dubai. With this prep run done and dusted, he came off a two-month break in the 2010 World Cup. This time, he will be going into the World Cup off a prep at Meydan. He ran fifth, 4 lengths behind the impressive Bold Silvano, in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round II (G3) in early February, when ridden by Weichong Marwing and held up in last place early on.

Gitano Hernando needed the run first time up this year and he ran much better in the Al Maktoum Challenge III (G2) four weeks later when Irish top jockey Johnny Murtagh was in the stirrups. Stretching out to 2000 metres, Gitano Hernando ran on gamely at the finish and almost caught the favourite Musir in a battle for second, which he lost by just a nose. It was a step very much in the right direction but the winner, Twice Over, was 2 lengths better. Bridging the gap may not be easy.

Botti's star had just two outings in Europe last year, winning the Diamond Stakes (G3) over 11 furlongs at Dundalk in Ireland in September and finishing fourth to fellow World Cup contender Twice Over in the Champion Stakes (G1) back home in Newmarket the following month. Overall, his form is solid without being brilliant, and Gitano Hernando is a horse that has looked capable of taking the step right up to the top of the league. Now aged five, he has only raced 12 times and won half of those starts, and further improvement is not at all unlikely. He is clearly well suited by artificial tracks, while also very effective on turf, and the distance of the Dubai World Cup (G1) suits him well.

His sire Hernando has been most successful at stud after an illustrious career on the turf, winning the Prix Lupin (G1) and Prix du Jockey-Club (G1) French Derby before running a close second to Carnegie in Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1). Gitano Hernando's dam, the Perugino daughter Gino's Spirits, began her career in England, where she was a Listed winner and managed second in the Sun Chariot Stakes (G2). After exportation to the USA, she won the Noble Damsel Handicap (G3) and three other stakes events all on turf.


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Last update: 2011-03-04 16:34:03 (First published: 2011-02-20 06:52:57 )

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