In a just-published column for The National, trainer Sir Henry Cecil tells Geoffrey Riddle that he is unlikely to contest the Dubai World Cup again. ”I’m not going to prepare a horse for a race where I’ve got no chance,” Cecil said, speaking specifically of horses drawn wide for the 2,000 metres start at Meydan. ”You can’t go with 14 runners and come to a bend. Drawn 14 you’ve got no chance. I thought I had him really well for last time.” In consecutive years, Cecil’s Twice Over recorded tenth and ninth place finishes in the world’s richest race.
Horses have just more than a furlong, or over 200 metres, to the first turn over the Tapeta at Meydan.
The lack of account for Cecil’s remarks is striking. First, Twice Over won the prep for the Dubai World Cup, the Maktoum Challenge – R3 (G2), breaking from post 13, over the same 2,000 metres trip of the big race. In 16 races at the 2011 Carnival run over the Tapeta, and at two turns (distances of 1900, 2000, and 2200 metres), the average winning post was 7.5. Six of the 16 two-turn Tapeta races were won by horses breaking from gates 10 or higher, and 25 percent of the total – 4 out of 16 – were won by horses breaking from gates 13 or 14, which includes Twice Over’s win. One could go so far as to say that Cecil’s logic about post position impacting race results is not just off base, but entirely wrong and unproven by the fact of the race results.
At the 2010 Dubai Carnival, the first over the Tapeta at Meydan, 22 two-turn races were contested. The average winning post in those races was 6.2, with four of the 22 races being won by horses starting at posts 11 or higher. Two of those wide drawn winners came on Super Thursday, the main prep day for the 2010 Dubai World Cup when Mendip won the Al Bastakiya from gate 14 over 1,900 metres and Red Desire won from gate 13 over 2,000 metres in the Maktoum Challenge – R3. That was the first of two consecutive years where the winner of the 2,000-metre Maktoum Challenge was victorious from gate 13.
An opinion is one thing, but the facts about barrier draws at Meydan suggest that Cecil’s opinion is unsupported.
Wide draws can win – Twice Over, trained by Sir Henry Cecil, wins the 2011 Maktoum Challenge from post 13 – VIDEO BELOW.