Author: Duane Fonseca

ITALIAN-BORN RIDER Andrea Atzeni believes Equilateral has the quality essential to make the leap up to 1200m and be a top candidate for the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint on Dubai World Cup day.

As one of those who knows what it takes to win a race on the Dubai World Cup programme, one of Europe’s top riders Atzeni can very much be considered an authority on the subject and although a month remains between now and one of the most lucrative nights in world racing on 27 March, the 2016 Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic winner has Equilateral down as one of the top prospects for the 1200m contest.

Atzeni delivered a first Group success for the Charles Hills-schooled 6yo gelded son of Equiano when winning last week’s Group 2 Meydan Sprint over 1000m. It marked a perfect progression up in class for Equilateral who won the Listed Dubai Dash in January over the same course an distance.

Equilateral won the Dubai Dash soundly last year but was then beaten almost a length by Waady in the Meydan Sprint, a foe he faced once again last week with A’Ali another top European contender entered in the race. Equilateral won the Dubai Dash under Frankie Dettori, but the rider’s decision to take the ride on favourite A’Ali pulled Atzeni into the equation.

And the pair made history with Atzeni delivering his mount a first Group level success by a length from Acklam Express. Equilateral could now go next for either the Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint on Super Saturday or its 1200m course and distance equivalent in the form of the Al Quoz Sprint.

Who would ride him going forward remains uncertain but Atzeni is happy for connections nevertheless. “Obviously I have to speak to the trainer Charles Hills and the owners but I’m sure they are the next options and why not,” said Atzeni, who has ridden him once previously when the pair finished third in a Listed event at Doncaster in March 2019.

“He has done well so far and seems to be getting better. He seems to like it here in Dubai. It’s the first time I’ve ridden him here and he seems to thrive here. He won a handicap here last year and has stepped up a level here and won in Group company and he did it quite nicely. He’s definitely on the right track. That was a nice win against some decent sprinters.”

Atzeni added: “He jumped well, travelled strongly and took me to the front a long way out. He has good pace, galloped out quite strongly and hit the line strong so I don’t see why he can’t do well going forward.” Atzeni won the 2016 Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic with Postponed, trained by Roger Varian for Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum, who had followed up with that win on Dubai World Cup day after seeing out Super Saturday’s Group 2 Dubai City of Gold.

And the 30yo Sardinia born rider is looking forward with much anticipation as he said: “I like it here and we are well looked after. It’s a fair track and I love coming here because the weather is great and we are treated well. I’m very lucky to be here.” Atzeni reported Varian could ship San Donato, also owned by Sheikh Mohammed Obaid, to run in Super Saturday’s Group 1 Jebel Hatta, a race which the jockey won in 2017 with Decorated Knight, trained by Roger Charlton.

In 2020, San Donato, a 5yo son of Lope De Vega, was third behind Addeybb in the Doonside Cup Stakes at Ayr in September and took third behind Mohaather in the Group 2 Summer Mile Stakes at Ascot, Atzeni said: “There’s a plan that San Donato might come here for the Jebel Hatta and apart from that I’ll be heading back to England for the long season ahead.”