Meydan: Vazirabad swoops late to defend Gold Cup crown

Vazirabad wins the Dubai Gold Cup

PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos) Vazirabad swoops late to defend Gold Cup crown By lewis porteous in dubai 1:28PM 25 MAR 2017

Report: Meydan, Saturday

Dubai Gold Cup Sponsored By Al Tayer Motors (Group 2) 2m, turf, 3yo+

THERE cannot of have been many in Dubai who smiled when waking up to the sound of thunder and lightning on Saturday morning but the more it rained the more confident Alain de Royer-Dupre became that Vazirabad could defend his Gold Cup crown.

Under a peach of ride from Christophe Soumillon, Vazirabad left it late to deny Godolphin's Beautiful Romance what looked a certain success after he swept pace pacesetter Big Orange early in the home straight.

Royer-Dupre, who hopes to bring Vazirabad to Britain this season, deflected all the praise Soumillon's way after his impeccable timing on the winner.

"We know he has a very strong turn of foot and the the ground was perfect for him, but Soumillon was very good," said De Royer-Dupre. "He took his time and came right at the end, which is best for the horse."

Royer-Dupre deserves his share of the limelight too, with Vazirabad improving since he was defeated by the runner-up in the Nad Al Sheba Trophy at Meydan last month, turning around a length-and-a-half defeat.

"He didn't jump that good so I gave him time," said Soumillon. "The pace was good and I knew I could make some ground up on this going. It's good to come at the last moment with him because he can be a bit green in front. He has huge ability but he's not the most courageous sometimes, but he gave me a great turn of foot today."

Winner heading to Goodwood

Although among the elite in the staying division in Europe, Vazirabad has yet to compete in Britain but that looks set to change soon.

"I'm sure to go for the new Group 1 at Goodwood," said Royer-Dupre, referring to the upgraded Goodwood Cup, "and maybe we can think about the Gold Cup at Ascot, but only if the weather and the ground is right."

Paddy Power cut the winner to 5-1 (from 8) for the Ascot Group 1 which is also on the radar of Sheikhzayedroad, who finished third on his fourth run on a Dubai World Cup card.

"He ran a cracker and travelled the whole way," said his rider Martin Harley. "I tried to give him plenty of room off the bend but halfway up the straight Big Orange got a bit tired and lugged out right, and Christophe just had a bit more horse under him and put me in a bit of a pocket.

"I might have been second but I don't think I'd have beaten the winner. He could be a Gold Cup horse this season."

Kingfisher, running for the first time since the 2015 Melbourne Cup, finished a tailed-off last, reportedly finishing slightly lame.

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