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A LOOK back at his 2021 Dubai winter campaign will make Antonio Cintra Pereira a happy man. For one, he would have ticked off some of the things he had hoped to do when he picked the quintet that would represent his yard at the Dubai World Cup Carnival. But the most important thing Pereira has done is blaze a trail for Uruguayan connections looking to regularly send their top stables to race in the far corners of the world.

“Uruguay is a country with a strong passion for horses and the Thoroughbred industry is growing fast and coming here was important for the future of the industry,” Pereira told Al Adiyat. “I have been working in Uruguay for the past five years and I have been very happy with the results back home.

“I am quite pleased with what we have been able to achieve here as well because this is the first time horses from Uruguay have left the country to race in this part of the world. “For a long time, I have been trying to get some good horses to come race in Dubai and, fortunately, this year, I was lucky I could bring some good horses here.

Two of them are showing that they are good enough to run on Dubai World Cup night.” He is talking about El Patriota and Ajuste Fiscal. The pair are part of the aforementioned quintet that also includes Upper Class, Trancaferro and Almoradi. Both El Patriota and Ajuste Fiscal are owned by Stud la Pomme (Haras de la Pomme), an Argentine operation with a rapidly growing Uruguayan bureau.

El Patriota, a 3yo son of Ecologo, has done well in Dubai winning the Al Bastakiya Trial on his UAE debut and finishing a strong third in the main event on Super Saturday. Ajuste Fiscal has shown clear improvement over his first two runs and pocketed minor money in two Group Two contests.

The 4yo Ioya Bigtime colt, winner of the Gran Premio Jose Pedro Ramirez, a local Grade One, at Maronas in Uruguay, was fifth and then third over the first two rounds of the Al Maktoum Challenge over 1600m and 1900m respectively. Both are yet to be confirmed, and declarations will only be out closer to Dubai World Cup day itself on 27 March, but Pereira is hopeful as he looks to run El Patriota in the Group 2 UAE Derby and Ajuste Fiscal in the Group 1 Dubai World Cup.

I expected to get one or two winners and have one or two horses running in the Dubai World Cup programme. Now, I have one winner and maybe I’ll have two horses running at the Dubai World Cup day meeting. That will make me very happy,” the 57yo said. “I brought five horses with me and two of those, Ajuste Fiscal and El Patriota, belong to Haras de la Pomme, who are an international farm based in Argentina with operations in Uruguay.

These two are among their first generation horses in Uruguay and they are getting very good results. “We have not yet received invites, but I believe El Patriota will be invited for the Derby and hopefully we get an invite for Ajuste Fiscal for the Dubai World Cup.” Belief is what has carried Pereira thus far.

Fortunate to be born in a family closely connected with equines, Pereira grew to naturally love horses and after school he pursued a career in veterinary studies in his native Brazil. He graduated as a vet, but there was something clearly missing. Dr Pereira (excuse the pun!) was able to diagnose correctly.

“I used to go to the racetrack because my father and grandmother bred horses, so I was passionate about horses from an early age,” Pereira explained. “My passion led me to join university and seek a career as a vet and I graduated as a vet, but I realised my passion had always been to train horses.

I used to enjoy racing very much and more than being a vet. So, I took out my licence in Brazil in 2001 and for 15 years I trained there and won the Trainers’ Championship there four times. Being a vet helped me a lot in training because it gives you a feel of the horse and their condition.”

He moved to Uruguay five years back and was Champion Trainer there thrice during that time. “It’s very different here because the level of horses here is high. In Uruguay, the quality of the breed is increasing and in a few years the quality will be high enough to bring more horses to Dubai, but for now the level needs to improve,” Pereira said.

“Haras de la Pomme are growing their farm in Uruguay and the country nowadays offers some of the best prize money in the whole of South America, so many connections from Brazil and Argentina bring their horses to race in Uruguay and Uruguayans are buying a lot of good stallions to improve the local stock. So things are moving forward well.”

Pereira’s expectations appear modest and he’s nearly met them partnering Brazilian rider Vagner Leal, with his record this year reading: a winner, two thirds, a fourth and a fifth in 12 dispatches, all of that earning him Dh332,083 in prize money so far. He has enjoyed a fair bit of success having made sporadic appearances in the past.

He was first here in 2001 with Nikolayev, who finished ninth in the UAE Derby, while Heart Alone brought him a first UAE success when winning the 2006 Group 3 Al Shindagha Sprint. He was represented in that year’s UAE Derby by Jackson, well beaten behind Discreet Cat. In 2008, Ukranian won a 1400m rated conditions event on that year’s Super Saturday equivalent before settling for seventh in the Derby.

His third UAE success arrived in 2010, when Al Arab won a 1400m handicap handsomely before finishing tenth in the Group 3 Burj Nahaar, the course and distance equal of the Group 2 Godolphin Mile. El Patriota’s success was a fourth for Pereira, who will now have proverbially crossed his fingers in the hope of securing his pair of race berths on Dubai World Cup day.