Dubai: Godolphin’s Cavalryman was denied an encore in the $1 million (Dh3.67 million) Dubai Gold Cup, sponsored by Al Tayer Motors, when he was beaten by a narrow margin by Irish long-shot Certerach on Saturday.
Trained in County Kildare by Michael Halford, the 33-1 outsider just held on from the fast-finishing Cavalryman, the mount of Silvestre de Sousa, to prevail by a ¼ of a length in a head-bobbing finish to the 3,200m contest.
However, Jamie Spencer, who punched his fist in the air as he crossed the finish line, had to survive an objection by De Sousa, before he could keep the race. After a tense 10-minute wait, it was announced that the objection had been withdrawn, allowing the result to stand.
South Africa’s Star Empire, second to Cavalryman in the Nad Al Sheba Trophy, was third under Christophe Soumillon while British hope Moment In Time, who was seventh on that occasion, ran a big race for Jim Crowley to take fourth place.
Winning jockey Spencer said: “I think we got there a bit too early. He’s a huge horse and that doesn’t go in his favour.
“I remembered what the trainer had told me to let the horse find its rhythm and so I just let the reins fall. He’s real quick and once he gets to the front there is no stopping him.
Halford said winning on Dubai World Cup night was a realisation of his biggest dream. “This has been an amazing night. It’s a dream come true for all of us,” he said. “And to top it all with a winner who is something that can only be a dream for many.
“He is a seasoned horse and though he has had other good runs here this one still remains at the top. Considering that he was against Cavalryman, he had a very good race today.
Winning owner Paul Rooney added: “We are delighted, the strategy worked. The trainer had him in superb shape and the jockey rode a wonderful race.
“We agreed on the strategy, it was implemented and we won the race. A wonderful day for Ireland, absolutely delighted.
“It’s just unbelievable, it’s world class racing, the whole Dubai facility is just world class and we’re so pleased and privileged to be here. I’m delighted for everybody on the team,” he said.
Certerach was reversing the form on Cavalryman who had beaten him by seven lengths in the Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy during the Dubai World Cup Carnival four weeks ago.
He also won a handicap over 2,400m earlier at Meydan when ridden by Shane Foley, who had described him an an honest horse with a “good turn of foot for a stayer.”
Upgraded to Group 2 status this year, the 3200m Dubai Gold Cup sponsored by Al Tayer Motors was the first of the turf races on the Dubai World Cup card and had been dominated totally dominated by Godolphin trainers since it was first contested in 2009.
Bin Surour was seeking a fourth win in the Gold Cup while Cavalryman was bidding to become the first dual winner of the longest race and most recent addition to the World Cup card.
Godolphin’s previous wins in the race came through Veracity (2009), Sabotage (2010), Whispering Gallery (2011) and Opinion Poll (2012).
Dubai Gold Cup (TB Group 2) Purse $1,000,000 Dist 3,200m Turf:
1. Certerach (M Halford) Jamie Spencer; 2. Cavalryman (S Bin Surour) Silvestre de Sousa; 3. Star Empire (M de Kock) Christophe Soumillon; 4. Moment In Time (D Simcock) Jim Crowley.
Also ran: Ralston Road, Dabadiyan, Songcraft, Ernest Hemingway, Sheikhzayedroad, Seismos, Joshua Tree, Now We Can, Saddler’s Rock, Jamr, Simenon.
Winning distances: 0.25length, 2.25, 0.5.