Soumillon takes desert by storm
Christophe Soumillon made his hit-and-run visit to Dubai a winner on Thursday night when he landed a Listed race on Sanaya for his retaining owner, The Aga Khan.
Sanaya put herself in the reckoning for the Group One Dubai Duty Free Stakes at the Dubai World Cup meeting on March 29 with a very convincing triumph in the Storming Home-Cape Verdi Stakes over 1,600 metres on the Nad al Sheba turf track.
The win was a Dubai first for the The Aga Khan, one of the world's most famous owner-breeders, and also for leading French trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre.
Soumillon played his favourite tactical tune, slicing his way through the field on Sanaya before drawing away to win by 33/4 lengths from Alexandra Rose and taking the filly's career stats to four wins from 13 starts.
'We went to learn about Dubai and it worked out really well,' said De Royer-Dupre. 'Hopefully she will run in the Dubai Duty Free.'
Soumillon had missed the Happy Valley meeting on Wednesday night, the second fixture of his two meeting careless riding suspension, and so became eligible to ride in Dubai the following night.
Soumillon left Hong Kong on Tuesday morning and, having won a game of golf at the illustrious Montgomery course in Dubai on Wednesday, was delighted to follow up on the racetrack.
'I have hardly ridden in Dubai before, although I did win the Dubai Duty Free on Terre A Terre in 2002 and was fifth on Bullish Luck last year,' Soumillon said.
'It's an amazing place and hopefully I can go back and win the same race on Sanaya at the end of March.'
The Dubai Duty Free (1,777m) and the Sheema Classic (2,400m) on the same programme, share equal billing as the world's richest races on turf with prize money of US$5 million each.