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Animal Kingdom set for Royal Ascot after taking Dubai by storm

30 Mar 2013

The USA star, winner of the 2011 Kentucky Derby and runner up in last year's Breeder's Cup Mile, put up a scintillating performance to take the world's richest race with ease tonight and now it's all systems go for Royal Ascot.

Animal Kingdom and jockey Joel Rosario celebrate after their awesome Dubai World Cup triumph this evening. Image courtesy of racingfotos.com.

Animal Kingdom, trained in the USA by British-born Graham Motion and ridden by Joel Rosario from the Dominican Republic, took the world’s richest race, the ten-furlong Dubai World Cup, with ease and in so doing set up the fascinating prospect of him joining earlier Dubai World Cup Night winners Shea Shea and Soft Falling Rain in a raid on a QIPCO British Champions Series race at Royal Ascot.

The one mile two furlongs Prince if Wales’s Stakes on Wednesday 19 June is the most likely target, but the one mile Queen Anne Stakes is the other option.

He and fellow USA chellenger, Royal Delta, were the two class horses in the line-up, but while the latter dropped out tamely after leading the field for much of the race, Animal Kingdom defied a bad draw – he was drawn 12 of the 13 runners, so had to race wide in the early stages – to go clear entering the straight.

His South Amercian rider, Joel Rosario, was looking round for non-existent dangers long before the winning line and only Red Cadeaux, running a huge race over a trip too short for him, made any impression in the final furlong.

Red Cadeaux, winner of last year’s Sportingbet Yorkshire Cup, the opening Long Distance race in the QIPCO British Champions Series over a trip of a mile and six furlongs, stayed on really well to get within two lengths of the winner, who coasted to the winning line.

It was a long looking four and three-quarter lengths back to the third horse, the Marco Botti-trained Planteur (Newmarket-trained horses were therefore second and third, while the winning trainer was born in Cambridge, just a few miles from British racing’s HQ). Planteur had also finished third in the race a year ago.

Side Glance, trained by Andrew Balding, was a fine fourth just a neck behind Planteur.

Whilst one must inevitably question the strength of the form with Red Cadeaux, who came agonisingly close to winning the two-mile Melbourne Cup in 2011, finishing a clear second over the mile and a quarter trip, Animal Kingdom is clearly a top-notcher.

He was impressive in his Kentucky Derby triumph in 2011 and was the only one to make star miler Wise Dan pull out the stops in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Mile.

A tilt at Royal Ascot, where Black Caviar is increasingly likely to reappear, would be the icing on the cake for the Royal racecourse.

The triumphant trainer said: "The race reminded me of when he won the Kentucky Derby and apart from a brief moment at the three-pole I was really pleased with the way everything was working out.

"I talked to Joel after the UAE Derby and I told him based on what I had seen in that race he needed to be close and it was important for him to break well.

"That’s not really his style but he is good enough to produce when you take him out of his game, as we had to do.

"He’s just an extraordinary animal. Joel seemed to have so much and when this horse went clear he did it with supreme confidence."

Barry Irwin, speaking on behalf of the owners, Team Valor, said: "Animal Kingdom has had two freak injuries and overcome both, but his prep race was so confusing it should have knocked him out completely.

"But he came back as fit as he has ever been. He’s a very unique horse.

"He ships to England on Saturday and now it is over to Graham, who has another major challenge in how do you take a horse to England and run him there quite quickly after winning in Dubai?"