Dubai Duty Free adds to appeal of Asian Mile Challenge
The world's best milers are certain to target a revamped Asian Mile Challenge in 2006 with the announcement that the US$5 million Dubai Duty Free has joined the series as the second of four legs next March.
The race on the Dubai World Cup programme has recently received a dramatic uplift in stake money and will offer the biggest prize ever contested by Hong Kong horses.
Fairy King Prawn was a controversial second in the Dubai Duty Free in 2001 but the measure of the revamped prize money for the race since is shown by a new first prize equal to the stakes earnings of Fairy King Prawn's entire career.
The 1,777m race on Saturday, March 25, joins the two legs of the inaugural Asian Mile Challenge - the Champions Mile at Sha Tin on May 7 and the Yasuda Kinen in Tokyo on June 4. The new opening leg of the four-stage Challenge is to be the Group One Futurity Stakes at Melbourne's Caulfield track on March 7 next year.
Though hastily arranged in 2005, the Challenge was able to attract international support, with the Champions Mile hosting runners from England, Japan and Australia, and three Hong Kong runners travelling to Tokyo for the Yasuda Kinen.
The more realistic four-leg series will build on that initial success to give the AMC real international profile this time around.
Tony Cruz-trained Bullish Luck was the first winner of the Asian Mile Challenge this year when he downed Silent Witness in the Champions Mile, then finished fourth in the Yasuda Kinen - with Silent Witness third - though he did not earn a US$1 million bonus which required him to win both.
While the extra distance of the Dubai Duty Free is unlikely to attract Silent Witness, a fit and firing Bullish Luck would be a prime contender at Nad Al Sheba.
Last year the Dubai Duty Free was won by Australian galloper Elvstroem but with the raise in prize money, the race is expected to draw the very best from all corners of the globe in 2006.