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Dubai Duty Free: Derbaas in focus
by Handicappers / Globeform
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Hamdan Al Maktoum's contender for the Dubai Duty Free (G1), the five-year-old Derbaas, will be going into the contest off four straight wins, and he seems to be improving still.

After having won twice over a mile on the Tapeta surface at Meydan in December, he has kept up the good work at the Carnival, to break the course record in a handicap and land the well contested Al Fahidi Fort (G2) in February, both on turf.

His win in the Al Fahidi Fort came at the expense of the favourite Raihana, who had also won her previous race and was getting a lot of support. Last year Raihana won the UAE Oaks (LR) and she ran an even better race to be second behind Musir in the UAE Derby (G2). This Mike de Kock trained filly was going to be tough beat, and Derbaas managed to do just that. After tracking the early leader Silverside from the outset, he went by that rival with about 400 metres to go, and stretched out in determined style down the home stretch. Derbaas was going well on the front end when Raihana emerged from the pack to throw down a challenge in the closing stages. He kept on finding a bit more and held her at bay to win by half a length. The longshot Le Drakkar was 1 ¼ lengths further back in third and Hearts Of Fire finished fourth. All four are possible Duty Free contenders.

Handled by champion trainer Ali Rashid Al Raihe, Derbaas has been much improved this winter and his win in the Al Fahidi Fort earned him a place in the field for this year's Dubai Duty Free (G1) on World Cup night. This prestigious turf race is staged over 1800 metres, however, and the last 200 is the big question mark for Derbaas. Can he be as effective over the longer trip? His regular rider Richard Hills seems to think so, saying after the Al Fahidi Fort: “The Dubai Duty Free is the obvious race for him and he will certainly stay”. There is some stamina in his pedigree but only once has Derbaas been tried over further than 1600, when finishing last in a Listed race in England at three, and he has also won over 1400 metres. He is normally prominently placed in his races and he finishes very gamely. A moderate early pace would be to his advantage in the Duty Free.

His sire, Seeking the Gold, is best known through his fantastic son Dubai Millennium and he has also sired high profile US champions like Flanders, Heavenly Prize and Pleasant Home. Seeking the Gold was himself winner of the Super Derby (G1) and ran a good second to Alysheba in the 1988 Breeders' Cup Classic (G1).

Derbaas is out of the well-bred Storm Cat daughter Sultana, who won as a three-year-old and is a full-sister to top miler Aljabr, winner of the Sussex Stakes (G1) and Lockinge Stakes (G1) in England, where he was also a top juvenile. Sultana and Aljabr are out of Sierra Madre, a top-class French filly who took the Prix Marcel Boussac (G1) over 1600 metres at two and went on to win the Prix Vermeille (G1) over 2400 metres at three.




Published: 2011-03-02 04:59:05

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