Feature Story



By Sam Turner - 

So many intriguing questions and, thankfully, not much longer to wait for the answers!
Can Ushba Tesoro become the first horse since Thunder Snow and only the second in the race’s prestigious 28-year history to win back-to-back Dubai World Cups?
Or will his Riyadh conqueror Senor Buscador become the first to complete a glittering 
Gulf double following his hard-fought 
Saudi Cup triumph?
Will it be Kabirkhan carrying the hopes of a nation to victory on a wave of emotion in the most spectacular race, or will the wily Bob Baffert produce another rabbit from the hat and scoop a fifth World Cup courtesy of the under-the-radar Newgate?
All this without mention of the ex-Baffert-trained Laurel River, back-to-form for new handler Bhupat Seemar at Meydan last time, or last year’s dominant UAE Derby winner Dermo Sotogake, an honourable fifth in the Saudi Cup, 111 days after excelling himself in the Breeder’s Cup Classic behind White Abarrio.
The Japanese contingent is completed by Wilson Tesoro, himself closely matched with Ushba Tesoro, and Dura Erede, a son of Duramente who failed to fire when well fancied to win the G1 February Stakes over a mile when last seen.
The latter had previously chased home Godolphin’s talented Japanese dirt horse of the year Lemon Pop and finished on the heels of counterparts Ushba Tesoro and Wilson Tesoro in the G1 Tokyo Daishoten. The step back up in trip looks likely to produce a livelier display. With Japanese bloodstock continuing to make its presence felt on the global stage, the ‘Fab Four’ could prove tough to overcome, especially if there is a healthy gallop to run at late.   
Wherever you look in this race, former Baffert trainees are everywhere with recent acquisition Defunded, seventh to Senor Buscador in a strongly run Saudi Cup, far from disgraced on his first start for Saudi Arabian handler Abdulaziz K Mishref.
Crupi, third behind Baffert trainee National Treasure in the Pegasus, represents his sire Curlin, himself a previous winner of this great event back in 2008. 
However, the ever-green Frankie Dettori, on board that day, prefers to continue his powerful association with Baffert by partnering the upwardly mobile Newgate; a decision which may prove a tip in itself. And what of the Al Maktoum Classic, won by a veteran in Military Law who was not for passing that day under a determined Oscar Chavez. An 11th hour withdrawal from Saturday’s great race two years ago, the nine-year-old surely can’t become the oldest winner of this race and bag a $1.2million bonus in the process, can he?
Chad Summers will be hoping not, although the giant Clapton, third to Miliary Law that day, has yet to produce a racecourse performance to match the stature of his sizeable frame.
So there we have it, tune in on Saturday to see which of the dynamic dozen prevails and answers everything that a Dubai World Cup victory demands.