Fourth place in desert sees Viva stay marginal choice
Alan Aitken in Dubai
Connections can do little but wait after Viva Macau failed to advance his cause for a certain run in the Dubai Duty Free in three weeks, despite a brave effort at Nad Al Sheba on Super Thursday that had trainer John Moore upbeat.
'He's been a month without a run, he's a big, gross stallion and he blew up over the loins after the race,' Moore (pictured) said. 'Everything says he definitely needed this run. If he gets a run in the Duty Free, he'll be a better horse for it and we will have some aspirations towards picking up some prize money in the big race.'
Darren Beadman rode the ideal race on Viva Macau, burying him in the first six on the fence early but echoed Moore's views: 'He went up to them like he was going to run a place, but his run just petered out the last part.' The horse was eventually beaten less than two lengths into fourth place in the Jebbel Hatta (1,777m) behind Irish-trained Lord Admiral, who pushed the Hong Kong galloper further down the Dubai Duty Free list with his win. Lord Admiral was already rated higher than Viva Macau, but was borderline at getting a start on March 29. He now becomes a certain Duty Free starter but Viva Macau is still borderline at best, even though he will likely get a minor ratings lift, with the Duty Free the race on World Cup night with the list of hopefuls. Dubai Racing Club officials are expected to make final decisions on the invited runners by Monday.
The performance of Sean Woods-trained Watch What Happens earlier in the night, however, fell well short of expectations. The gelding pulled ferociously under Douglas Whyte to the home turn in the Burj Nahaar, (1,600m) on the dirt course, leaving him with little in the tank for the business end of the race.
Watch What Happens issued a brief challenge in the straight before fading quickly to finish 10th of 14 runners. It was a long trip for nothing for Whyte, who had gained a pick-up ride earlier in the night, only to finish towards the tail of the field too.
An upset win by Gower Song over Mourilyan and Oracle West in the Dubai City Of Gold (2,400m) had significance in the traditional lead-up for Viva Pataca's World Cup night target, the Sheema Classic, with no runner leaving a major impression for the main event to come.