James Knight’s Weekly Wrap for the Coral Champions Club
Money can’t buy you happiness as the old saying goes, and the Beatles taught us that it can’t buy you love either. It can, however, buy you a Derby winner – or at least half of a Derby winner, as that is exactly what Sheikh Joaan Al Thani’s Al Shaqab racing purchased from the mighty Coolmore operation this week when acquiring a 50% stake in the 2013 winner, Ruler Of The World.
It won’t be long until Sheikh Joaan gets to see his new purchase running in his grey silks either as the horse lines up in the $10m Dubai World Cup at Meydan tomorrow evening. In assessing his chance, punters will be studying the form of his rivals, factoring in the likelihood of him taking to the Tapeta surface and deciding how much of a hindrance an awkward wide draw in stall 12 could prove to be. But could the very fact that Coolmore have sold a significant share in him be enough of a clue in itself?
Fans of the Dubai Carnival will be familiar with the sight of ex-O’Brien stars turning up in the desert and racing for Mike De Kock. Mars, Daddy Long Legs, Gale Force Ten, Await The Dawn, Master Of Hounds to name just a few. Some of them have found their level and won races, but not a single one has reproduced their best form for O’Brien, let alone improved on it. In short, if you buy from Coolmore, you are very unlikely to be buying a progressive horse.
An unfair comparison you might say, as Coolmore have retained a 50% stake in Ruler Of The World and he is still trained by O’Brien. But, there is precedent here too as Coolmore have sold stakes in various horses to Fitri Hay over the past few years. Let’s look at how they fared.
Cape Blanco was bought in similar circumstances to Ruler Of The World, just prior to the Dubai World Cup of 2011, where he finished a slightly disappointing fourth. The horse went on to pick up three relatively weak Grade 1s in the States but never quite reproduced the form of his stunning 2010 Irish Champion Stakes win. Hay also bought into Derby second, Treasure Beach, who was a bitter disappointment for new connections and failed to win in ten starts after the change of ownership.
The most successful purchase from Hay into the Coolmore empire was Fame And Glory. Although he didn’t reproduce his best figures on the book, he did manage to land a Group 1 for his new owners in the 2011 Ascot Gold Cup before his form tailed off in 2012. Success yes, but the new Yeats he most certainly was not.
So – can Ruler Of The World win the World Cup tomorrow? The figures in the book say yes, the switch to Tapeta and the draw raise doubts, but those who study the form of Coolmore in the equine transfer market will be laying him until the cows come home.
WEEKEND NAP – Kempton stages a top class sprint handicap at 3.30 tomorrow and LANCELOT DU LAC looks a very strong contender. Dean Ivory’s gelding won well on his seasonal reappearance last season and had a highly productive campaign, winning four races (including one over this course and distance) and leaving the impression that there could be more to come this term. It would be no surprise if he emulated the same yard’s Tropics and ended up a Group class performer.
WEEKEND BISMARCK – It may seem odd to want to oppose last year’s Al Quoz winner, SHEA SHEA (3.03 Meydan), now that he has been drawn in the ideal spot on the near rail , but I think things will be much tougher for him this year. Although Mike De Kock’s star ran well in Europe last season, he hasn’t ever quite reproduced the scintillating form he showed in Dubai last spring and I think he will need to be at his very best to beat Amber Sky. This Hong Kong raider is a pure speedball and his recent exploits over the minimum trip at Sha Tin suggest that he will prove a very hard horse to catch tomorrow.