Click above to watch Rocket Man winning the Golden Shaheen (Gr1)
(Footage : Dubai Racing)

26 March 2011

The Dubai World Cup meeting featured two sprints, one on grass, the other on tapeta. Having shown his preference for the turf, (or rather, his dislike of the tapeta), it was Lucky Houdalakis’ decision to keep J J The Jet Plane on his best surface in the Al Quoz Sprint (Gr2) and he was vindicated when our local ace came sprinting out of the mist after twice being interfered with, to get over the line in the last stride of the 1000m trip, now arguably too short for him.

His ranking as the best male sprinter in the world remains intact, and was not eclipsed by Rocket Man’s gutsy win in the Golden Shaheen (Gr1) a few races later. The latter is a man who thoroughly deserved his victory, as he’d been narrowly denied last year in the same event, as well as by J J The Jet Plane in the Hong Kong Sprint (Gr1) a few months ago. Rocket Man may be Australian-bred, but he’s South African owned, South African-trained, and he was South African-ridden on Saturday evening, the protagonists being respectively one of the country’s biggest owners, Fred Crabbia, the veteran horseman, Patrick Shaw, and one of our most celebrated riders, Felix Coetzee.

As gallant as gallant gets, it was very nearly South Africa’s turn to grab the cash in the $5million Dubai Duty Free (Gr1) yet again, (no country has won it more often), when River Jetez claimed the lead 300m out, and just as she appeared to have the race at her mercy, the Luca Cumani-conditioned Presvis finally got his act together, (having had a couple of shots at the event before), for a half length victory. Now in her seventh year, River Jetez’s astonishing effort was as fine an advert for the class and durability of South African gallopers as any, and the Amms and Marsh Shirtliff can take some solace from the knowledge that she ran her guts out for “president and country”.