Geoffrey Riddle spoke to Alain de Royer-Dupre about Dubai Gold Cup favourite Vazirabad. Watch Oli Bell and James Willoughby's analysis of the $US1million staying race at Meydan on Saturday.
By Geoffrey Riddle in Dubai
Alain de Royer-Dupre has revealed that Dubai Gold Cup favourite Vazirabad will be aimed at Royal Ascot and the Qatar Goodwood Festival but stopped short of committing the grey to a tilt at the new Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ Million.
Vazirabad is a best-priced 9-4 to make it an unprecedented third win in the two-mile event at Meydan on Saturday and should everything go well the six-year-old gelded son of Manduro will head straight to the Royal meeting in June.
Vazirabad has never run at Royal Ascot before because his Chantilly-based trainer believes that at the height of summer it is too hot for his charge. The Dubai Gold Cup is run here at 4.50pm local time (1.50pm UK).
“I want to go to Royal Ascot - if it is not too hot - and Goodwood,” the trainer said at morning trackwork on Wednesday.
“It is time to try. Here we run in the evening. Ascot is a very demanding track – it is all up and down. Meydan is a flat track. If the weather is too hot there, I won’t go. You can overdo a horse like that and we like him. We like him a lot.”Vazirabad has been training well in Dubai ahead of the Group Two race (DRC)
Vazirabad will run in two of the four legs of the new Stayers’ Million, which demands a horse winning four staying prizes.
“It is too much,” he added.
THE ROAD TO £1 MILLION
A win in any one of the following four races is the first criterion:
May 2 - Ascot: Longines Sagaro Stakes
May 11 - Chester: Boodles Diamond Ormonde Stakes
May 18 - York: Betway Yorkshire Cup
May 24 - Sandown: Matchbook Henry II Stakes
And then wins in:
June 21 - Royal Ascot: Gold Cup
July 31 - Goodwood: Qatar Goodwood Cup
August 24 - York: Weatherbys Hamilton Lonsdale Cup
“You need to run a preparation race in England. My experience is if you move (the horse) all the time it is too much. I can’t keep coming backwards and forwards to England.
“I think it is too much for any horse. When you run long distance races it is very demanding on the horse. Vazirabad is six. I want to continue with him for a long time, not kill him.”
Vazirabad faces up on Saturday to old rival Big Orange, who cantered on Wednesday morning and who will have a more strenuous piece of work on the training track on Thursday morning under the watchful gaze of Michael Bell.
Big Orange suffered a minor interruption on Monday but, at this stage, is expected to run and has been shunted out to as big as 17-2 with Betfair. The Gold Cup winner finished second by a neck to Vazirabad two seasons ago and was fourth 12 months ago. With Big Orange possibly not at 100 per cent, it was Godolphin’s Rare Rhythm, who beat Vazirabad in the Nad Al Sheba Trophy, who Royer-Dupre said fears the most.
“He had a tendon problem in behind and we needed two months to come back very well,” the trainer said of his hold-up performer.
“He won a Group One at the end of the season but he was not the same.
“He needs to have a special race. When he comes too early, he just stops.
“I think Christophe Soumillon knows what he has to do. They have a good connection.
“It is always difficult to win the same race three times. The principal problem is the horse who beat him in the preparation race – he won very easily. I’m not sure we can beat him.
“He did much better in his last race than he did in the same race last year, for sure. He looks okay. We’ll see.”
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