The Japanese horse did throw the form out the window
Owners of horse BATHRAT LEON (JPN) and jockey Ryusei Sakai pose with the trophy during the presentation of the Godolphin Mile sponsored by the Dubai Word Cup Nakheel race in Meydan on Saturday March 26. Photo by Rahul Gajjar
Group 2 Godolphin Mile was built as a battle between stable mates – defending champion, battle-hardened veteran Secret Ambition and new kid on the block Al Nefud.
But Japan’s Bathrat Leon did throw the form out the window.
A rank underdog in the eight-stay affair, Bathrat Leon, coached by legendary Japanese handler Yoshito Yahagi, more or less led from start to finish to clinch the dirt contest.
Bathrat Leon became the second Japanese horse to win the Godolphin Mile after Utopia, ridden by Kojiro Hashiguchi, won the race in 2006, ridden by Yutaka Take.
Kizuna’s four-year-old colt Bathrat Leon won by a length and a quarter Adrie De Vries of Ahmed Al Shemaili and Desert Wisdom.
Godolphin’s Storm Damage, the charge of Emirati conditioner Saeed bin Suroor, finished third, 3.25 lengths behind Bathrat Leon.
Secret Ambition, ridden by Bhupat Simar, who finished ahead of Golden Goal last year, could not replicate that form and finished a poor 11th.
Al Nefud, also trained by Bhupat, had a race to forget, finishing last of 16 riders.
It was an incredible race from Bathrat Leon, under Ryusei Sakai, considering it was only his second race on gravel after 13 starts, it was his third victory.
“He’s a good leader and we know the corners well, so he got off to a good start and he pushed, and he was able to hold to the line. We applied our tactics well,” Yahagi said.
While jockey Sakai said: “The plan was to go forward and go fast. Everything went well and the horse continued. I think he preferred clay here more than in Japan. Mr. Yahagi is one of the best coaches in the world. It is an excellent result.
“It was my dream and my dreams are coming true. We expected him to do a good race the last three days. His concentration is very good. I took the lead easily. He was traveling very well. I still wasn’t very confident because you have American horses behind you who have speed and are very good,” added Sakai, who has been riding for Yahagi for seven years now, since starting as an apprentice.
Secret Ambition jockey Antonio Fresu, who has had a busy week ahead of the Dubai World Cup, has revealed the nine-year-old from Exceed And Excel got off to a bad start and couldn’t s get over it.
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“He tripped at the start and got pinched. He didn’t want to go after that. He has to lead, be up there,” Fresu said.
Nine-time UAE champion jockey Tadhg O’Shea, who ridden Al Nefud, said: “He ended up lame.”
The run started with Snapper Sinclair breaking nicely with Storm Damage hot on his heels. Storm Damage held the lead, albeit briefly, as Bathrat Leon surged ahead.
Soon Bathrat Leon held him down with Storm Damage and Bankit scrambling for position. Bathrat Leon retained pole position as Adrie de Vries’ Desert Wisdom ride held Storm Damage at bay to claim second.