Gulf Today

Rebel’s Romance reignites Meydan passion with thrilling victory in Dubai Sheema Classic


DUBAI: Rebel’s Romance recorded a fourth G1 victory as he dominated a stellar field in the Dubai Sheema Classic on Dubai World Cup Night at the Meydan Racecourse on Saturday.

The 2022 Breeders’ Cup Turf hero headed into the 12-furlong Meydan showpiece on the back of impressive wins in the UK and Qatar but was taking on a field that included nine other G1 winners from Japan and Europe.

The hardy six-year-old handed Godolphin its race since 2017, with Jack Hobbs, Hawkbill and Old Persian striking in consecutiv­e years.

It was a record fith win in the race for jockey William Buick, who was able to keep it prety simple

Having raced prominentl­y when easily taking Qatar’s G3 HH The Amir Trophy, Rebel’s Romance was again towards the fore throughout as he raced in a half-length second on the outside of Point Lonsdale.

Point Lonsdale went on into a three-length lead entering the back straight, with the Charlie Appleby-trained Rebel’s Romance continuing in a clear second as the field strung out. Third-placed Shahryar also opened up daylight over the rest of the field and the front three held a significan­t advantage turning for home.

Rebel’s Romance quickened on the outside of Point Lonsdale passing the two-furlong pole and the Dubawi six-year-old forged ahead for Buick approachin­g the final furlong.

Liberty Island, Justin Palace and Emily Upjohn attempted to close late but Rebel’s Romance never looked in any danger and hit the line two lengths clear of Shahryar, adding to his previous Dubai World Cup Night success in the 2021 G2 UAE Derby. Dual Derby winner Auguste Rodin finished last.

Appleby said: “To have a winner tonight, on what has been a really internatio­nal night, to get one on the board for Godolphin and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, is very pleasing.

“William told me he had a plan, but I told him not to tell me, then I couldn’t roast him if it went wrong! We were confident the right thing to do* was go forward and heading down the back, I felt confident because I knew the fractions weren’t strong. William knows this track so well and did everything right.

“We were confident Rebel’s Romance was in as good a place as we could get him. He went to Kempton and then had a great ride in Qatar from William. He has travelled a lot but we were confident he was at his best. Plan A was to go forward to give the horse the best chance to run his best race.”

Buick added: “Rebel’s Romance showed in Qatar what a versatile horse he is. His best form has usually been when he is held up but I tried something new in Qatar. I was keen today to adopt a similar tactic and I got a lovely slipstream from the leader.

“He is a very good horse on his day and he showed that today. I’m absolutely delighted, he’s a great horse and I’m so glad he’s back to his best.”

Reflecting on the importance of Godolphin registerin­g a win on the biggest night day of the year in Dubai racing, Buick added: “His Highness Sheikh Mohammed wants to see the best horses come to Dubai and the best horses are here. These races are incredibly hard to win so of course I’m incredibly happy.

“It’s great for the team, great for everybody. It’s great to be here and it’s great to ride a winner. It’s an amazing training performanc­e and a great job by the whole team. I’m in the fortunate position to be able to ride these horses.”

Appleby had been out of luck with three earlier runners, with Star Of Mystery doing best when chasing home California Spangle in the G1 Al Quoz Sprint (1200m).

Hoping to become the first three-year-old to win the six-furlong turf highlight, Star Of Mystery overcame a sluggish start to settle in midfield as all bar Jasper Krone elected to race up the far rail.

Star of Mystery travelled strongly into the race as the leaders looked to kick on approachin­g the final quarter-mile and quickened smartly for Frankie Detori to take second from Bilhayl and Diligent Harry with just under a furlong to race.

The Appleby-trained filly closed on California Spangle but could not get on terms with the sixyear-old, who lowered the course record by more than a tenth of a second.

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Rebel’s Romance (right), ridden by William Buick, wins Group 1 Longines Dubai Sheema Classic.
↑ Rebel’s Romance (right), ridden by William Buick, wins Group 1 Longines Dubai Sheema Classic.

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