03/30/2013 11:57AM

Al Quoz Sprint: Shea Shea lives up to expectations; gives de Kock a second win


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Trainer Mike de Kock called Shea Shea his best hope of the World Cup card, and jockey Christophe Soumillon said he had no mount more live on the night. Shea Shea did not let them down, rallying down the outside of the course after getting an ideal trip to win the $1 million Al Quoz Sprint by three-quarters of a length over Joy And Fun. He paid $3.80 to win in the united States.

Shea Shea gave de Kock his second winner of the night, to go with Soft Falling Rain’s win in the Godolphin Mile, and his second win in the Al Quoz, a five-furlong straight-course turf sprint that De Kock won in 2009 with J J the Jet Plane. Like Soft Falling Rain, Shea Shea was bred in de Kock’s homeland, South Africa, and was champion sprinter while making his first 16 starts there.

[DUBAI WORLD CUP: Watch replays and read race recaps]

Shea Shea finished a disappointing seventh Jan. 31 in his Dubai debut, but de Kock wasn’t especially concerned by the performance, saying Shea Shea would improve from the start, which he did winning the Meydan Sprint on March 9. De Kock’s and Soumillon’s confidence before the Al Quoz was born of Shea Shea’s strong training since his win earlier in the month March 9, and Shea Shea was on his game Saturday, breaking alertly and stalking the pace in the middle of the track before Soumillon steered outside for a clear run. Shea Shea’s winning time of 56.14 seconds broke the course record he’d set in the Meydan Sprint.

Ten-year-old New Zealand-bred Joy and Fun, winner of this race in 2010, turned in his best performance in more than a year to finish second. Joy and Fun was to be retired after the Al Quoz, but his connections might have second thoughts. Eagle Regiment, who was saddled with difficult post 1, and had a foot injury earlier in the week, finished another three-quarters lengths back in third, with Sole Power fourth, Mr. Big fifth, and U.S. shipper Varsity a creditable sixth.

De Kock said Shea Shea would be pointed toward the King’s Stand Stakes at Ascot this summer.

Gold Cup: Cavalryman wins for Godolphin

The Group 3, $1 million Gold Cup, a two-mile turf race, was added to the World Cup card in 2012. So far, it has worked out well for the home team. Opinion Poll, a 6-year-old Godolphin runner by Halling, won the race last year, and Cavalryman, a 7-year-old Godolpin runner by Halling, easily won this year’s edition.

Cavalryman finished ninth in the Group 1, 1 1/2- mile Sheema Classic on last season’s World Cup card, but went a different direction this year, with Godolphin stretching him out for his fifth try at two miles or more. Cavalryman loved the longer trip, relaxing comfortably under Silvestre De Sousa  until mid-stretch, when he let fly a burst of rapid acceleration that quickly carried him from fifth to first. He won going away by three lengths, with stablemate Azeemah a neck better than Verema, giving trainer Saeed bin Suroor a sweep of the top two placings.  

Saddler’s Rock, the well-backed pace-setter, was undone when jockey Declan McDonogh’s saddle slipped.

The Gold Cup was hand-timed in 3:25.31 for two miles on good going. Cavalryman paid $9.40 in the United States.