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Dubai Duty Free: Just A Way beats path to victory

Dubai: Just A Way, a multiple Group 1 winner from Japan, lived up to his moniker and annihilated his rivals in a classy renewal of the $5 million Dubai Duty Free (G1) on Saturday.

Veteran jockey Yuichi Fukanaga rode a confident race aboard the Naosuke Sugai-trained five-year-old to coast home 6.25 lengths clear of Meydan winner Vercingetorix, the mount of Christophe Soumillon, with Dank, a dual Group 1 winner in America last year, a fast-finishing third under Ryan Moore.

Just A Way continued the trend on the night when he set a new track record for 1,800m on the turf, clipping almost two seconds of the previous mark set by Godolphin’s Sajjhaa last year when he crossed the line in a 1:45.52.

“That’s amazing,” said Fukunaga, who was the leading jockey in Japan last season. “I just ride him. He was very, very good and has a strong finish.

“I can’t believe we’ve won. The race went as planned. I wanted to take a front position but the start wasn’t so good so I just rode him as hard as I could down the straight.”

Fukanaga’s celebrations doubled as he was handed an invitation to represent the Rest of the World at the 2014 Dubai Duty Free Shergar Cup, Britain’s premier jockey’s competition that also features teams from Great Britain, Ireland and Europe.

Trainer Naosuke Sugai was effusive in his praise for the meeting: “I would like to say thank you to His Highness Shaikh Mohammad [Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai].

“I’m very happy. We have two decisions, if we didn’t get a good position to stay behind until the final straight.

“I talked with the jockey and told him to do this and he delivered.

“We represent our nation with this win so we are very happy. This is the first time I’ve won outside of Japan so I’m delighted.

“There are several factors that we need to consider before we decide what we want to do with the horse. Let us first enjoy this win.”

Just A Way has now won major races in his last three seasons. In 2012, he captured the Grade 3 Arlington Cup at Handshin, the Grade 1 Tenno Sho the next and the Grade 2 Nakayama Kinen.

A son of 2006 Dubai Sheema Classic (G1) winner Heart’s Cry at Nad Al Sheba, his best triumph was when he beat Japan Cup heroine and subsequent 2014 Dubai Sheema Classic winner Gentildonna in the Tenno Sho, his prep race for Dubai. The last Japanese-trained horse to win the Dubai Duty Free was Admire Moon in 2007.

The unbeaten Vercingetorix was hoping to provide South African handler Mike de Kock with his fourth success in the race but proved no match for the Japanese winner.

Race favourite The Fugue, who was switched to this race only last week having previously been a Dubai World Cup hope, finished 11th of 13 under William Buick.

Godolphin’s Hunter’s Light, another horse to have been redirected from the big race to this turf-starrer, briefly threatened under big-race jockey Kieren Fallon only to run out of steam in the final two furlongs.

Fact Box


Race 7. Dubai Duty Free (TB Group 1) Purse: $5,000,000 Dist: 1880m Turf: Just A Way (N Sugai) Youichi Fukunaga; 2. Vercingetorix (M de Kock) Christophe Soumillon; 3. Dank (S M Stoute) Ryan Moore; 4. Mshawish (M Delzangles) Frankie Dettori.

Also ran: Anaerobio, Logotype, Tokei Halo, Hunter’s Light, Tasaday, Blazing Speed, The Fugue, Trade Storm, Educate.

Winning distance: 6.25length, 1.75, 1.25.

Time: 01:45.52.