AN ASPIRANT for the Dubai World Cup, last year’s Grade 1 February Stakes winner, Gold Dream, failed to defend his crown in the 1600m dirt feature in Tokyo on Sunday, finding Nonkono Yume a neck too good. Having his first start since winning the Grade 1 Champions Cup in December, Gold Dream was slightly slowly into stride, as was the eventual winner who stalked him as they raced towards the back of the pack. Both made progress on the home turn before unleashing their challenges in the straight, Gold Dream seemingly taking the initiative under Ryan Moore 200m out, only for his stride to shorten.
Meanwhile, Hiroyuki Uchida continued to make progress aboard Nonkono Yume, saddled by Yukihiro Kato, and they led when it mattered, by a neck after Gold Dream tried to fight back. Winner of the Japan Dirt Derby in 2015, he was without a victory since the December of that year until landing the Grade 3 Negishi Stakes in January. Before that, he was well beaten in ninth behind Gold Dream in the Champions Cup. “The staff tuned him up beautifully and he was in very good form,” said jockey Hiroyuki Uchida. “I kept him wide and in good striking position so that he could unleash his good late charge at any point, which is probably the reason why we were able to win today.”