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DWC walk in the park for Laurel River

March 2024

Home challenger Laurel River and Tadhg O'Shea produced a sensational front-running performance to thrash challengers from around the globe in the Dubai World Cup ay Meydan on Saturday.

Cork-born O’Shea is an 11-time champion jockey in the UAE but enjoyed his greatest moment as the Juddmonte six-year-old breezed around the bends at Meydan to scoop the $12 million prize without the slightest hint of a challenge.

The jockey felt he was sitting on the best horse he had ever ridden as Laurel River prepared for the biggest test of his career and confident tactics were executed. The son of Into Mischief skipped out of the widest berth in stall No 12 to take up the running as the field passed the post for the first time.

That would prove to be the closest they got to the leader, who had flourished under similar tactics in his Burj Nahaar warm-up at the start of the month. Stamina was a slight concern as he faced a rise in trip and class yet Bhupat Seemar exuded optimism about the horse who had only joined his stable, nestled in the shadows of Dubai’s skyscrapers, at the start of the year.

Defunded was the sole horse to keep on Laurel River’s tail but with each stride the gap was expanding before – in a quite remarkable moment – the leader turned for home in absolute isolation.

The field, which included key contenders from Japan and America, attracted a global audience and few could have predicted such a freakish picture as the leader sauntered into the straight with the opposition toiling, trying but failing to snatch a good look at Laurel River, who kept on to stun the world and the World Cup field with an 8.50-length romp.

The jockey, who completed a memorable double when Tuz won the Dubai Golden Shaheen, said: "With the dirt you can’t be half-hearted, you have to go forward. If he didn’t stay, he didn’t stay. We were aware of that. It’s easy to say when you win but I was able to keep filling him up.

"It was a little bit surreal, what do you do – you’re in front in a Dubai World Cup. He was starting to gear down, he was flicking his ears and it’s a huge stadium out there.

"He’s had an easy race, I’ve kept him up to his work. I’m thinking, 'when am I going to wake up?'”

Like O’Shea, Seemar is one of Dubai’s most decorated racing residents but victory in the city’s biggest race marked the pinnacle of his career.

The trainer said: “I’m still coming to terms with what’s happened. I think it’ll probably sink in in another day or two. It’s absolutely amazing. Tadhg said this morning ‘we’re drawn 12, I’m not going to be two-minded about it, I’m going to go forward'. You can’t go to the best race in the world and ever think you will win like that.

“I was a small kid when I was watching these colours winning some of the biggest races in the world. What the late Prince Khalid Abdullah has done is amazing. I couldn’t believe I was going to be training the horse for that farm and those colours. Now to win for them is unbelievable.”

Ushba Tesoro took second for Japan and the US-trained Senor Buscador stayed on for third. Oisin Murphy finished sixth aboard Derma Sotogake, having replaced the injured Christophe Lemaire, three places ahead of the Frankie Dettori-ridden Newgate. - Racingpost.com

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