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Peniaphobia the bright spot from Hong Kong��s Dubai challenge


Six Hong Kong sprinters headed into tonight’s two speed features at Meydan racecourse Dubai with hopes buoyant, but after the G1 Al Quoz Sprint and the G1 Dubai Golden Shaheen had been decided there was no fluttering bauhinia flag. And Gun Pit’s last place finish in the evening’s feature, the US$10 million G1 Dubai World Cup, only added to the overall sense of deflation.

Peniaphobia provided a glimmer of cheer with a fine third in the Dubai World Cup meeting’s Group 1 curtain-raiser, the US$1 million Al Quoz Sprint. Tony Cruz’s star had placed second in last year’s renewal and once again showed his merit with a game third in this latest edition of the 1000m turf charge.

“He broke well and was placed where we wanted him to be,” said jockey Joao Moreira, who jumped his mount to the fore and edged across towards the stands’ side from his five draw.

“Buffering was there on my outside, making the run a little bit earlier than I thought he was going to and then he just kicked and got in front of me. But my horse is only beaten a length and I’m very happy with him,” said the Brazilian.

Peniaphobia passed the post a length behind the Australian warhorse Buffering who scored in a time of 56.34s. The UAE’s Ertijaal kept on to edge second, a neck ahead of the Hong Kong raider.

“Leading in, he won his barrier trial in Hong Kong and everything was looking good,” said Cruz. “I expected him to be one of the fastest out of the gates and he did that. No excuses for him, I think the better horse won on the day. He was only beaten a length, so I’m happy with him.”

Not Listenin’tome, berthed in gate four, was never able to muster enough speed to join the party and raced slightly apart from the main bunch under Ryan Moore.

“Ryan just said he was on the wrong side of the track and as it developed on the stands’ side he just wasn’t there – there was definitely a bias. He said the horse was just hanging away and just wasn’t where the action was,” said trainer John Moore after watching the gelding finish a below par eighth of 13, beaten a shade over three lengths.

Peniaphobia’s third placing at least offered hope to Hong Kong’s Dubai Golden Shaheen quartet but none was able to land a serious blow in the 1200m dirt contest as local star Muarrab got the better of US speedster X Y Jet at the end of an attritional stretch duel.

Best of the Hong Kong four was the Tony Millard-trained Super Jockey. Last year’s runner-up crossed the line a well beaten fifth, six and a half lengths back.

“At the start as he jumped he cut his whole bulb off,” said trainer Tony Millard, looking down at Super Jockey’s blood-splattered hooves. “He took his whole heel off. It was certainly a good performance. He didn’t show his normal speed and there is a serious reason. Joao said he pulled up lame given he did that. Under the circumstances, not a bad run at all seeing he pulled up lame.”

Moreira said: “He knocked himself and pulled off a shoe. He wasn’t able to bring his ‘A’ game because of that.”

Meanwhile, Hong Kong’s Rich Tapestry broke sharply from the one stall and jockey Gerald Mosse allowed the eight-year-old to stride forward and hold the rail, thus preventing the aptly-named X Y Jet from gaining an outright lead and shutting him out.

“I’m very happy with him, he gave his best and tried hard,” said jockey Gerald Mosse. “The track was pretty fast, and I don’t think it’s his favourite track. He was travelling with them from a nice draw and when I asked him to accelerate he had already given me a lot.

“I didn’t really rush him at the start but I had to be up there because all the front runners were getting home. I kept him three quarters of a length just inside of them but they were too strong and he had nothing for the finish.”

Placed in the previous two renewals of the Golden Shaheen, Rich Tapestry faded out to finish seventh as, up ahead, Muarrab fought his way to a neck verdict over X Y Jet in a time of 1m 10.59s.

A disappointed Michael Chang, the gelding’s trainer, said: “Rich Tapestry tried hard and gave his best but I think he just had enough. I’ll talk to the owners but it looks like we’ll freshen him up and then give him one more run, in Korea.”

Domineer was tardy at the break under Frankie Dettori. Up against it from that point, Caspar Fownes’ galloper ran home a never dangerous eighth of the nine finishers.

“He didn’t muster at all and they just ran and ran,” said Fownes. “Nothing made any ground on the front two when they kicked.

“You want to see him jump and run, but once he was in behind, eating that kickback is brutal. That wasn’t his true performance, so it’s hard to get a gauge on it for future plans.”

Master Kochanwong was sharply into stride from gate two, as expected, but David Hall’s gelding, having his last career start, was unable to match the blistering early pace and found himself shuffled out of the front rank and facing the kickback.

“He just wouldn’t go once he was in behind,” said Hall. “Douglas (Whyte) said the kickback was really something. He said when he takes his silks off there’ll be marks all over him. The horse just didn’t cop it all, he just gave up – nothing to do with his old problems and issues; it was all to do with the kickback. You either cop it or you don’t and unfortunately he put the white flag up.

“You never know until you get out and try – he was fast from the gate but he was never going to hold the lead, that’s for sure, so once they got in front, that was the end of that.”

Whyte said: “He tried his best but he just wasn’t up to that standard.”

The Fownes-trained Gun Pit lined up for the last race of the night, the Dubai World Cup (2000m, dirt) with hopes of a first five finish. But it was another case of kickback proving detrimental to a Hong Kong horse’s chances as Moreira’s mount found himself on the heels of the front rank.

“He didn’t relax during the race for me,” said the rider. “When I was close to their heels the kickback was coming right on his chest and he was fine but when they picked up from the 800 metres, and went a length and a half up, the kickback went straight into his face and he came off the bridle – he just gave up.

“He just couldn’t keep with them as we were passing the 700 metres. I gave him a few taps to see if he was going to give me much and he didn’t give me an inch so I just decided to let him come home alone.”

Gun Pit was eased past the post last of 12 as the Art Sherman-trained California Chrome scorched three and a quarter lengths clear of the field for a decisive victory under Victor Espinoza. The winning time was 2m 01.83s. Mubtaahij took second and Hoppertunity third.

Peniaphobia (yellow cap) finishes a gallant third in the G1 Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan. Winner of the race Buffering (left) and 2nd placegetter Ertijaal (second from right) are both nominated for the G1 Chairman's Sprint Prize.
Photo 1:
Peniaphobia (yellow cap) finishes a gallant third in the G1 Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan. Winner of the race Buffering (left) and 2nd placegetter Ertijaal (second from right) are both nominated for the G1 Chairman's Sprint Prize.

Peniaphobia and Joao Moreira are on their way to Meydan��s turf track for the G1 Al Quoz Sprint.
Photo 2:
Peniaphobia and Joao Moreira are on their way to Meydan��s turf track for the G1 Al Quoz Sprint.


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