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by Geir Stabell ( / Globeform (
Last update: 2011-03-27 06:10:08 (First published: 2011-02-27 05:09:31 )



Meydan 26 March 2011 – 2000 metres / 1 Ό miles Tapeta

Runners presented with best Globeform, sire, trainer, jockey

124 - CAPE BLANCO (Galileo) A O'Brien / J Spencer
120 - BUENA VISTA (Special Week) mare H Matsuda / R Moore
123 - TWICE OVER (Observatory) H Cecil / T Quelly
122p - FLY DOWN (Mineshaft) N Zito / J Leparoux
120p - VICTOIRE PISA (Neo Universe) K Sumii / M Demuro
120* - GIO PONTI (Tale of The Cat) C Clement / R Dominguez
120 - MUSIR (Redoute's Choice) M de Kock / C Soumillon
120- RICHARD'S KID (Lemon Drop Kid) B Baffert / R Mullen
119p - POET'S VOICE (Dubawi) S bin Suoor / L Dettori
118 - GOLDEN SWORD (High Chaparral) M de Kock / K Shea
117 - GITANO HERNANDO (Hernando) M Botti / J Murtagh
117 - TRANSCEND (Wild Rush) T Yasuda / S Fujita
116 - PRINCE BISHOP (Dubawi) S bin Suroor / A Ajtebi
114p - MONTEROSSO (Dubawi) M Al Zarooni / M Barzalona

*) Gio Ponti: GF 122 in 2009 / GF 120 in 2010

Buena Vista: 2kg / 4.4lb sex allowance, add four pounds to her rating for direct comparison with males.


CAPE BLANCO – Globeform 124 – tops the ratings

Cape Blanco takes the highest Globeform rating into this year's Dubai World Cup, having produced GF 124 when running away with the Irish Champion Stakes (G1) last September. The Aidan O'Brien trained colt had previously won the Dante Stakes (G2) at York in England and the Irish Derby (G1) at The Curragh – beating Midas Touch over a mile and a half – but outclassing top older horses in the 10-furlong Irish Champion Stakes represented even better form.

He turned what ought to have been a competitive affair into a procession and was visually most impressive. Cape Blanco may have 'stolen the race' somewhat, however, as he went off in front and soon held a clear lead, though he was setting a good pace, and he kept on really strongly in the straight. Rip Van Winkle got closest to him, but not very close – he was beaten 5 ½ lengths. Twice Over, who had been second to Rip Van Winkle in the International Stakes (G1) in England, was only a nose behind him in third on this day. A day that truly belonged to Cape Blanco, one of the best three-year-olds in Europe last season. He went for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1) in Paris in October but a combination of soft ground and added distance may have contributed to a dull performance at Longchamp – he finished unplaced, beaten around 20 lengths by the winner Workforce.

One point worth making is that Cape Blanco ran way below form also when sent across to France for the Prix du Jockey Club (G1) – the French Derby – at Chantilly back in June, and it was suggested at the time that he had travelled badly across from Ireland. If he is a bad shipper, then that must be a worry as he goes for the World Cup on his seasonal debut.

Dubai based Mrs Fitri Hay recently purchased a share in Cape Blanco, and thus has an interest in one of the leading contenders. The World Cup distance is perfect for him and Cape Blanco's prominent running style should make him suited to Meydan, though this will be his first start on an artificial track.

His sire, the highly successful Galileo, won the Derby (G1), Irish Derby (G1) and King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes (G1) and was beaten just a head by Fantastic Light – who he had beaten in the 'King George' – in a thrilling finish to the Irish Champion Stakes (G1) in 2001. Galileo has also sired other champions in New Approach, Rip Van Winkle, Red Rocks and Soldier Of Fortune, and his son Frankel, an oustanding juvenile last year, is currently favourite for both the 2,000 Guineas (G1) and Derby (G1) in England. Cape Blanco's dam, Laurel Delight, was a sprinter and also a half-sister to the top class sprinter Paris House. A daughter of Presidium, Laurel Delight earlier produced the smart US turf runner Mr O'Brien – winner of the one mile Kelso Stakes (G2) at Belmont and the 9-furlong Dixie Stakes (G2) at Pimlico as a five-year-old, when he was also placed in Grade Ones over 10 and 11 furlongs.

TWICE OVER – second crack at World Cup

Twice Over
, back-to-back winner of the Champion Stakes (G1) at Newmarket in England, was beaten just over three lengths in last year's Dubai World Cup (G1).

Getting so close to the best horse is normally worth something but not in 2010, as eight others sqeezed in between the winner, Gloria de Campeao, and Twice Over. It was a muddling race, and the moderate early pace certainly worked against Twice Over on the day. He is a lot better than his tenth placing suggests – and proved the point with a solid win in the Al Maktoum Challenge III (G2) on Super Thursday.

The Henry Cecil trainee went for the World Cup without a prep run last year, and connections felt that he needed more experience with the surface at Meydan ahead of the 2011 edition. Twice Over thus ran in the Al Maktoum Challenge, over the full Dubai World Cup distance, and he was quite an impressive winner of this event, outstaying Musir and Gitano Hernando, who were noses apart at the wire but 2 Ύ lengths behind the winner. He broke well from an outside post, was soon just a few lengths off the leaders, and went ahead early in the straight. This was his 10th win from 23 runs and an absolutely perfect start to the new season for Twice Over and rider Tom Queally. English bookmakers immediately promoted him to favouritism for the World Cup. Khalid Abdullah's contender is one of the best over 1 Ό miles on turf in Europe, and now seems just as effective on Meydan's Tapeta track.

Given a near three-month break after the 2010 World Cup, Twice Over bounced right back to better form at Royal Ascot last June, when he ran a good second to Byword in the Prince Of Wales's Stakes (G1). Byword won by half a length but Twice Over was trapped a crucial stage of the finish and was perhaps an unlucky loser. He subsequently won the Eclipse Stakes (G1) at Sandown Park (beating Sri Putra by half a length) and Champion Stakes (G1) at Newmarket – an event he had landed also in 2009. Twice Over beat Mawatheeq by half a length on that occasion and his second Champion Stakes success came at the expense of the classy French raider Vision d'Etat, who was beaten almost two lengths by a strong and determined Twice Over. Sent into the lead two furlongs from home, he ran on really well and was never in any danger. Interestingly, this time Twice Over overcame a slow pace, by being given a more aggressive ride.

In between these high profile wins, the son of Observatory ran two solid races in defeat; his close second to Rip Van Winkle in the Juddmonte International (G1) at York reading better than his third in the Irish Champion Stakes (G1) at Leopardstown, where he passed the post 5 ½ lengths behind the winner (Rip Van Winkle just a short head better in second).

As a three-year-old, Twice Over showed enough speed to beat that year's Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) winner Raven's Pass over a mile, and he has never been tried over further than the World Cup distance. His sire Observatory was a top class miler and Twice Over's dam, Double Crossed (Caerleon), won over 10 and 11 furlongs. Twice Over combines speed and stamina and he is a game and consistent racehorse who looks set for a big run in the Dubai World Cup (G1).

BUENA VISTA – Japan's leading lady

So unlucky
when demoted from first place in last year's Japan Cup (G1), the most important race in her homeland, Buena Vista is now being pointed for the Dubai World Cup (G1), and she is without doubt a live contender for the $10 million contest.

She came with a strong run to beat Rose Kingdom by 1 Ύ length in the Japan Cup – where she was much the best – but was found to have impeded the runner-up and lost the race in the stewards' room. Though she did come off a straight line when passing Rose Kingdom, the effect seem minimal and the disqualification was perhaps a bit harsh. Victoire Pisa, a close third in the Japan Cup, managed to turn the tables on Buena Vista as they clashed once more in the Arima Kinen (G1) on December 26. Racing over 2500 metres (12.5 furlongs), Victoire Pisa beat Buena Vista by a nose that day. The popular filly thus ended her season with two disappointments. It was, however, an excellent season overall, and one that began with a solid win over Jaguar Mail in a G2 event at home, before she ran second to the English trained filly Dar Re Mi in the Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) on Dubai World Cup night. This year, Buena Vista will contest the World Cup.

After her good run in the Sheema Classic, Buena Vista was rested until mid-May, when she returned to action in the Victoria Mile (G1) for fillies and mares at Tokyo. She ran out a game winner, beating Hikaru Amaranthus by a neck, with Nishino Blue Moon and Red Desire close up in third and fourth. Buena Vista's versatility is a great asset. Not many runners show top class form over 1600 and 2500 metres and she surely is a bit special.

Nakayama Festa - who was later on second in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1) - just got the better of her in the Takarazuka Kinen (G1) at Hanshin in June. A longer break followed and Buena Vista regained winning ways in the Tenno Sho Autumn (G1) at Tokyo in late October, a championship event in its own right but also a recognised prep for the Japan Cup. Buena Vista proved by far the best in this 2000-metres event and strolled home 2 lengths ahead of the three-year-old colt Pelusa. This win set her up for a crack at the Japan Cup (G1), where Buena Vista was a short priced favourite to beat her 17 rivals. Something she did in fine style only to be demoted.

Buena Vista is out of the successful broodmare Biwa Heidi (Caerleon) and is a half-sister to Admire Aura and Admire Japan, also high-class performers in Japan. Special Week, her sire, was a multiple G1 winner who won the Japanese Derby (G1) in 1998 and the Japan Cup (G1) the following year. He is a son of Sunday Silence.

FLY DOWN – potential improver

Fly Down
progressed well throughout his three-year-old campaign and his last race of the year was his best, as he finished third behind Blame and Zenyatta in the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) at Churchill Downs in November. Doing best of the three-year-olds, he confirmed his place among the elite, and the $10 million Dubai World Cup (G1) is now on his agenda.

This colt bypassed both the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1), to focus on the second half of the season. After beating Drosselmeyer by 6 lengths to land the 9-furlong Dwyer Stakes (G2) at Belmont Park in May, Fly Down was strongly fancied for the third leg of the US Triple Crown, the Belmont Stakes (G1), the following month. The step up to 12 furlongs (2400 metres) was not expected to trouble him, and the distance probably wasn't the reason for his defeat. Fly Down finished well, though overall his performance was not as good as the one we saw in the Dwyer. Drosselmeyer turned the form around to the tune of almost seven lengths, as he won the Belmont, beating Fly Down by Ύ length. Fly Down just got up to take second in the last couple of strides, beating First Dude by a neck. First Dude had been a good runner-up to Lookin At Lucky in the Preakness three weeks earlier.

The best part of two months passed before Fly Down's next outing. He ran a dull race on his return, finishing fifth of eight behind A Little Warm in the Jim Dandy Stakes (G2) at Saratoga in late July. It was clear that he needed the run, and he came back a lot sharper in the Travers Stakes (G1) at the same track a month later, to lose a nail biting battle with Afleet Express. Fly Down looked the stronger with 200 yards left of the 10-furlong event, but Afleet Express's nose hit the wire first. That was the winning margin, just a nose. The Belmont and Travers results pretty much summed up the 2010 season for trainer Nick Zito, who had previously also saddled big race runners-up Ice Box (Kentucky Derby) and Jackson Bend (Wood Memorial). Zito's best three-year-olds kept on making good money by 'hitting the board' as they say in the US, but Zito was looking for a big win.

He could hardly have aimed higher, when he set out to take the Breeders' Cup Classic (G1) with Fly Down. After getting his prep run against older horses in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1) at Belmont Park in October, taking third behind Haynesfield, Fly Down came to Churchill Downs as one of the longshots for the Classic – where the fantastic mare Zenyatta was going for her 20th win in as many starts. She came so close, but was narrowly denied by Blame, while Fly Down ran the race of his life to finish third, beaten no more than 3 Ύ lengths. Jockey Julien Leparoux rode a perfect race on the colt, as he waited patiently at the back early on (with only Zenyatta behind him). Fly Down chased Zenyatta as she made her move and, though he was not up to giving her a race, he kept on really gamely to the winning post and produced an impressive performance. He beat the Preakness winner Lookin At Lucky by a neck for third.

Fly Down is a horse that has improved gradually with age and experience, and his form is bordering on top class. Just the type to progress again at four, he has more than enough stamina for the Dubai World Cup (G1) trip and is an interesting contender, though he has yet to race on an artificial track. He made his seasonal debut in the Donn Handicap (G1) at Gulfstream Park in February, running a moderate fifth to Giant Oak. It was a performance quite similar to his run in last year's Jim Dandy, which served as a prep for a big effort in the Travers.

His sire, Mineshaft, was North American Horse of The Year in 2003, when he won four Grade Ones; the Pimlico Special Handicap (G1), Suburban Handicap (G1), Woodward Stakes (G1) and Jockey Club Gold Cup (G1). He is the sire of last year's King's Bishop Stakes (G1) winner Discreetly Mine and has also sired G2 winning three-year-olds Casino Drive and Cool Coal Man. His son Dialed In is a leading contender for this year's Kentucky Derby (G1), having won the Holy Bull Stakes (G3) in impressive style on his second start. Like Fly Down, Dialed In is trained by Nick Zito.

Fly Down is a half-brother to Seafree (Chief Seattle), a classy filly who took the La Canada Stakes (G2) as a four-year-old, when she also ran third in the Santa Margarita Stakes (G1) - both over 9 furlongs at Santa Anita. Their dam, the Fly So Free daughter Queen Randi, is a half-sister to two good earners in Randi's Pleasure (winner of 15 races) and Prince Randi (6 wins).

VICTOIRE PISA – Japanese colt on the upgrade

will be well represented in this year's Dubai World Cup (G1), as the famous mare Buena Vista will be joined by Transcend and Victoire Pisa. One of the few who has managed to beat Buena Vista, this colt is coming off a smooth win at home, where he registered his seventh success in the Nakayama Kinen (G2). He is already pretty good, this son of Neo Universe, and he may well be on the upgrade still.

He is also a pretty experienced traveller, having raced twice in top company in France last year, where he managed fourth to Behkabad in the Prix Niel (G2) before finishing seventh in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe (G1). Such trips can take a lot out of a racehorse but Victoire Pisa showed no ill-effects when returning to Japan. In fact, he produced what was probably his best performance to date with a fine third in the Japan Cup (G1) at Tokyo racecourse in November, beaten only by Buena Vista and Rose Kinddom (who was awarded the race after a stewards' enquiry). Victoire Pisa was ridden prominently over the 2400 metres and he took the lead 200 metres from the winning post. Battling on really well, he had to see Buena Vista go past quite effortlessly, but he lost second by just a head to Rose Kingdom. Buena Vista passed the post 1 Ύ lengths ahead and she certainly seemed to be the best thoroughbred in Japan.

That did not deter Victiore Pisa's connection from having a crack at the last championship event of the season in Japan, the Arima Kinen (G1) at Nakayama in December. Buena Vista was once more in opposition and, given her excellent run in the Japan Cup, she was a strong favourite. The step up in distance, to 2500 metres, was expected to favour the filly. After all, Victoire Pisa is a colt who had landed the Japanese 2,000 Guineas (G1) over 2000 metres in the spring, and perhaps he did not quite stay the trip in the Japan Cup? Sound reasoning but, whether the distance or the timing were crucial factors or not, Victoire Pisa hit back in the Arima Kinen. After a tremendous battle he beat Buena Vista, but only just, as the photo finish revealed that he was a nose in front of her where it mattered the most. Buena Vista may not have been at her absolute best on this day but take nothing away from Victiore Pisa. He won the race in the style of an improving horse.

That was also how he opened his 2011 campaign, once more entering the winners' circle following a progressive performance. He returned to racing action in the Nakayama Kinen (G2) on February 27. This outing represented a drop in class, though it also meant a drop in distance. The Nakayama Kinen is contested over 1800 metres (9 furlongs) and is thus quite different to the Arima Kinen. Victiore Pisa's class and versatility shone through – he won again, this time quite comfortably, beating the six-year-old Captain Thule by 2 ½ lengths. Captain Thule is a previous winner of the Japanese 2,000 Guineas (G1). Despite tackling a shorter distance, Victiore Pisa's rider Mirco Demuro held him up at the back of the field early on, explaining after the event that the colt “was a bit excited”. Demuro conluded that “he is a very good horse, and a good one to take to Dubai”. That may turn out to be a bit of an understatement. In an open looking edition, Victoire Pisa does not have to improve that much to have a winning chance. And improve is all he's been doing over the past few months.

He is a son of Neo Universe, a highly successful Japanese stallion, out of the British mare Whitewater Affair, who was strong on stamina in her racing days. She won the Prix de Pomone (G2), a fillies and mares event over 2700 metres at Deauville when trained by Sir Michael Stoute in England, and was also successful against males in the John Porter Stakes (G2) at Newbury. She comes from a very good family. So does Neo Universe, who is a son of champion Sunday Silence and comes from the same family as 2002 Dubai World Cup winner Street Cry. Neo Universe won the Japanese Derby (G1) and he finished fourth in the Japan Cup (G1) back in 2003 – incidentally also partnered by the Italian born jockey Mirco Demuro. Tha Shadai Farm based stallion enjoyed an excellent season in 2009, when two of his sons tasted classic success; Unrivaled capturing the Japanese 2,000 Guineas (G1) and Logi Universe the Japanse Derby (G1).

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