The Dubai World Cup (gr. I) went to African Story, a seven-year-old who had enjoyed a previous incarnation as a high-class sprinter/miler in Europe, but who had no trouble seeing out the ten furlongs here. TrueNicks rated A+, African Story is by veteran sire, Pivotal, a top-class sprinting grandson of Nureyev, who has long been among Europe’s best stallions. The dam, Blixen, is by Gone West, and while Pivotal has done well in general with mares from the Mr. Prospector line, the Gone West branch has been particularly successful with three stakes winners – including another group one winner, Izzi Top – and two stakes placed horses from only 19 starters. The second dam, Danish, included the Queen Elizabeth II Invitational Challenge Stakes (gr. I) among her victories, and she is by Danehill, who appears in five of Pivotal’s stakes winners, four of them group/grade one! This is a branch of the excellent family that was founded by Champion Irish Two-Year-Old Filly, Mesopotamia.
The Dubai Duty Free (gr. I) and Dubai Sheema Classic (gr. I), both went to Japanese-bred runners. The former fell to Just a Way (TrueNicks A+), who is the only grade one winner for his sire Heart’s Cry, a two-time Champion by Sunday Silence. The dam, Sibyl, was imported into Japan in utero, and is by Wild Again out of the off-bred mare Charon (by the little-known Mo Exception, from a branch of the Tudor Minstrel branch of Hyperion), heroine of five graded stakes including the CCA Oaks (gr. I) and Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II). This is a pedigree that has an unusual amount of Hyperion/Nearco combinations in the center, and we’ll note the Wild Again’s son, Wild Rush, sired grade one winner Transcend and grade three scorer Courir Passion out of mares by Heart’s Cry’s broodmare sire, Tony Bin, so the formula seems to work.
The Dubai Sheema Classic was taken by last year’s runner-up, the great Japanese filly, Gentildonna, who accounted for the 2012 victor, Cirrus Des Aigles. Gentildonna is by Deep Impact, who at the age of 12, has firmly established himself as the heir to Sunday Silence. The dam, Donna Blini (by Bertolini, a son of Danzig, and a three-quarters relative to Green Desert) won the Cheveley Park Stakes (gr. I) and Cherry Hinton Stakes (gr. II) while racing in England at two. Her only previous starter is the multiple graded stakes winning and grade one placed Donau Blue, a sister to Gentildonna.
The two premier sprint events were annexed by Hong Kong-trained Australian-breds. Winner of Golden Shaheen (gr. I) was Sterling City (TrueNicks A++). He is by Darley’s Redoute’s Choice son, Nadeem, who was co-highweight at two in Australia after winning the VRC Blue Diamond Stakes (gr. I). Nadeem’s oldest crop are now five-year-olds, and his first two crops produced nine stakes winners, seven graded. There were only 22 foals in his third crop, but 57 in his fourth, and he’s a horse who could bear watching. Sterling City’s dam, So Gorgeous (by the Irish River horse, Brief Truce) was a four-time graded winner and is also dam of grade two scorer Tipungwuti (by Fusaichi Pegasus). The fifth dam is the Australian foundation mare, Denise’s Joy, and this is the same branch as New Zealand sire standout Thorn Park, grade one winning sprinter Bentley Biscuit, and young sire Stryker to name but a few.
The Al Quoz Sprint (gr. I) was won by Amber Sky, who is by Exceed and Excel, a Danehill son who has come through as an absolutely outstanding speed sire. Out of grade two winning and grade one placed Truly Wicked (by Rubiton, from the My Babu/Tourbillon line via Better Boy and Century), Amber Sky is TrueNicks rated A++, the cross of Exceed and Excel with Century line mares have produced two stakes winners and a stakes placed horse from only 12 runners. The second dam, by Roberto’s good son, At Talaq is a sister to graded scorer Dizzy Lass.
The UAE Derby (gr. II) was taken by Toast of New York (TrueNicks A++), a member of the first crop of emerging young stallion Irish stallion, Thewayyouare (by Kingmambo out of a Sadler’s Wells mare from the Blush With Pride/Best in Show family). The dam is by the relatively obscure Danzig stallion, Syncline, out of Claire Marine, an Irish-foaled runner who won four graded stakes in the U.S., including the Matriarch Stakes (gr. I) and Beverley Hills Handicap (gr. I). The rest of the distaff side of the pedigree is French, going back to Barley Corn, whose immediate family produced such notables as Shantung and Sassafras.
The two mile Dubai Gold Cup (gr. II) saw a pair of sons of Halling (by Diesis, and himself a 10 furlong performer) fight out the decision, Certerach getting the verdict by a neck over Cavalryman. Ceterach is one of two stakes winners by Halling out of from the Danehill line, his dam being Chartres, an Irish stakes winner by that horse (of course, typically for a Sharpen Up line horse, Halling has done well with Danzig in general, getting 13 stakes winners, seven group/graded). The second dam, Gothic Dream (by Nashwan) was second in the 12 furlong Ribblesdale Stakes (gr. II), and has significant descendents at either end of the distance scale as she is also dam of the stakes winner and Irish St. Leger (gr. I) runner-up Pugin, and granddam of the very speedy two-year-old and now young sire, Lilbourne Lad. The third dam is the Irish St. Leger (gr. I) victress Dark Lomond.
Finally, South African breeding gained a win courtesy of Variety Club – Horse of the Year, Champion Three-Year-Old and Champion Middle Distance Horse in South Africa for 2011-2012 – who took the Godolphin Mile (gr. II). Variety Club is by Forest Wildcat’s Prix de l’Abbaye de Longchamp (gr. I) victor, Var, who is now a standout sire in South Africa. The dam is by Woodman’s brother, Secret Prospector, out of a mare by El Gran Senor’s brother, Northern Guest, and is a three-quarters sister to Secret Prospector’s grade one winner Secret Rites. The third dam is South African Oaks (gr. I) heroine Novenna, who is a daughter of Hobnob (by Gyr, by Sea-Bird II, a branch of Native Dancer), and is one of the very few horses who we have seen inbred to Federico Tesio’s good son of Dante, Toulouse Lautrec. Oddly enough, this ties into Variety Club’s family which arrived in South Africa from Italy during WWII in the shape of Jinnipet, who was by Tesio’s star, Cavaliere d’Arpino (who in his lifetime Tesio claimed to be the best horse he had bred), out of a mare by Tesio’s Italy Derby winner, Michelangelo (who has a son in the pedigree of Toulouse Lautrec, who we said was doubled here).