Dubai: Top Irish jockey Joseph O’Brien is hoping that Ruler of the World will handle the all-weather surface at Meydan Racecourse and justify his favouritism in the $10 million (Dh36.7) Dubai World Cup (G1) on Saturday evening,
The Epsom Derby (G1) winner was handed the mantel of ante-post favourite after American hope Mucho Macho Man passed up the all-weather contest in the middle of February. Since then he has dominated the exchanges with unwavering consistency and is at present a warm 3-1 chance with leading British bookmakers William Hill.
O’Brien, who was seen walking the track at Meydan yesterday, said that riding the favourite in a big race like the Dubai World Cup did not put any additional pressure on him.
“I know my horse well and on form he has as good a chance as any of the other horses in the race, so it doesn’t really matter,” he told Gulf News over the telephone. “I would say the unknowns, like the surface and a far from ideal draw, things that haven’t been too favourable to us, are more of a concern.
“But he’s a good horse though and has a good attitude so we’re hoping he can run a big race.”
O’Brien disclosed that his “walk” at Meydan served two purposes.
“While it gives me the chance to sweat a bit, I also got a chance to have closer look at the surface and was able to familiarise myself with it,” he said. “It looks and feels in great shape. I’m pretty pleased with that.”
O’Brien, who partnered Ruler of the World to win the Irish Derby (G1) at The Curragh last June, said he was hoping that his big-race hope would handle the conditions on Saturday.
“I’m hoping it will suit him as he’s quite an uncomplicated horse,” said the Irish youngster, who at 5’11 is the tallest jockey in the world. “He has a good attitude and he travels well. I suppose the big unknown is the surface as he’s never been on anything like this before. That’s a massive question mark. But we won’t know whether he handles it or not, until the race.
“He’s a very good horse though, a Derby winner. This time last year, he hadn’t even raced but his progression through the year was unbelievable, so with this, we’re hoping that he can progress through the season as he did last year.”
O’Brien also said that he has also been in touch with Ryan Moore who has ridden Ruler of the World in five of his seven races including the winning ride at Epsom.
“I talk to him quite a bit. Ryan’s a top jockey and a brilliant judge,” he said. “He’s been a massive help to me.”
O’Brien also admits that he has the hungry and desire to win the Dubai World Cup.
“It’s the greatest race in the world and a very competitive race every year,” he said. “The best horses, the best jockeys, the best trainers and the biggest owners from around the world turn up here so it will mean everything for me to win.”