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Attention switches from Meydan to Hollywood

Author: Derek Thompson

05/04/2018
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It is not easy to follow such an incredible event as Dubai World Cup night but we can because this weekend we are in Los Angeles for the Darleys: the American Arabian racing awards! There is no finer setting than the Dolby Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard, yes the same venue that hosts the glittering Oscars Awards Ceremony, and on Friday night under the auspices of HH Sheikh Mansoor, the great and good of American racing will make their way to the stage to receive their awards which bear a strong resemblance to the Oscars. From a personal point of view, it is quite something hosting a show like this and walking on such a famous stage, knowing people are watching live around the world, and it is an incredible occasion.

But the beauty of working in such a theatre are the hardworking ‘guys and gals’ backstage who are out of the limelight but who actually get the show on the road. They treat everyone the same whether you are a Hollywood superstar or just plain Tommo and I’m pleased to say, I’m on first name terms with most of them. The rehearsals on Thursday gives me a chance to check everything and then at 6.30pm on Friday night, the TV lights go on, the red carpet is opened, the guests arrive for the big night and we go live on Yas TV and the Sheikh Mansoor Festival website. There are stacks of awards for the best trainer, owner, breeder, jockey etc, etc and it all builds up to the big one: Horse of the Year, an award won for the last two years by Paddys Day.

Saturday is race day and that means Santa Anita and the $100,000 HH Sheikha Fatima Darley Stakes for the Purebred Arabians and the big race of the year for the Thoroughbreds, the Santa Anita Derby. The Santa Anita Derby is one of the most famous races in America and there is a lifesize bronze statue of Seabiscuit, one of the greatest ever winners of the race in the last century and the subject of a major Hollywood film, in the middle of the parade ring. There will be over 50,000 racegoers there on Saturday and I wonder if local trainer Bob Baffert, whose two horses finished second and third in last Saturday’s Dubai World Cup, can make it to the winner’s enclosure here?

There are also plenty of Kentucky Derby trials going on this weekend in the USA but I will be looking for something extra special, because after seeing Mendelssohn demolish his rivals in the UAE Derby at Meydan, I believe Aidan O’Brien’s 3yo will take some catching at Churchill downs on 5 May. And then on Sunday, attention switches to the world famous Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills for the charity Gala Dinner. The Beverly Wilshire Hotel will always be remembered as the setting for the hit film Pretty Woman and to this day, it welcomes celebrities from all over the world. It is actually situated opposite Rodeo Drive, the most expensive shopping street in the world. So, a great weekend in prospect and it’s going to have to be, because last weekend’s Dubai World Cup meet saw some incredible performances!

Not many, if any, horses win the Dubai World Cup by over five lengths but Thunder Snow did and in doing so, gave Saeed bin Suroor an incredible eighth success in the World Cup. Not bad for a man who started off life as a policeman in Hatta! Fellow Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby enjoyed his first World Cup night successes with Hawkbill and Jungle Cat, and what about Vazirabad winning the Gold Cup for a record breaking third time? By the way, Christophe Soumillon, who gave Vazirabad such an outstanding ride, was equally brilliant on Thunder Snow and Ryan Moore also secured himself two winners. The UAE season may be over, but there are still calls to extend the season by a few more weeks and a few more meetings, but in all honesty, you have to finish with something extra special and that’s what the Dubai World Cup is all about; it’s the highlight of the season and you couldn’t finish on a higher note!

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05 Apr 2018
Issue Number: Issue 643
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Dubai playing a key role in British racing, says Jockey Club boss
Busybody Tadhg looks to scale mountains after climbing Hills
Nass’ trial and error style seems to be working wonders for him
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