Some of racing’s biggest names upstaged the Hong Kong contingent as international superstars Almond Eye, Cross Counter and Blue Point delivered at the Dubai World Cup meeting on Saturday night.
The Sha Tin-based gallopers were honest but they couldn’t match it with those at the top of their game.
Gold Mount was the best performer, running on strongly to finish fourth to Melbourne Cup champion Cross Counter in the Group Two Dubai Gold Cup (3,200m).
“He was beaten by three very good horses on his first try beyond 12 furlongs [2,400m],” jockey Ryan Moore said. “I am very happy with the run.”
Given the challenge of travelling and running over two miles for the first time, trainer Richard Gibson thought there was plenty of merit in the performance.
“It was a good effort his first run at this trip, it was a positive experience for the horse,” Gibson said. “In a top-class field like that, it was a good run.”
However Gold Mount’s stablemate Wishful Thinker was unable to fire a shot, finishing seventh in the Group One Al Quoz Sprint.
It was again the royal blue of Godolphin who prevailed, with Blue Point letting down strongly to beat American challengers Belvoir Bay and Stormy Liberal.
It was the middle leg of a treble for trainer Charlie Appleby and jockey William Buick, who won earlier with Cross Counter before completing their big night when Old Persian saluted in the Group One Dubai Sheema Classic.
“The horse ran well, he tried very hard but unfortunately I had a gate on the outside and I didn’t have good leaders on the outside. I came in a little bit and tried to follow the race but I was never in the race,” Wishful Thinker’s jockey Alexis Badel said.
“It’s quite different from Hong Kong, the pace wasn’t very fast. He needs more pace to finish better.”
It was a similar story for Me Tsui Yu-sak’s Fight Hero, who was out the back early in the Group One Golden Shaheen and while he was never getting near the winner X Y Jet, Joao Moreira got him going late and he ran on for sixth.
“A better horse won,” Tsui said. “I was thinking fifth or sixth, something like that, so he’s run to expectations.”
The highlight of the night was Japanese filly Almond Eye, who confirmed her status as one of the best on the planet with a stunning victory in the Group One Dubai Turf.
Caspar Fownes’ Southern Legend never looked comfortable and battled home to come sixth.
“He was never on the bit, never travelling, so it was going to be hard for him to finish off. It was only a fair run,” jockey Zac Purton said.
Team Godolphin capped off a stellar night when the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Thunder Snow edged out American raider Gronkowski to become the first horse to win back-to-back Dubai World Cups.