WHEN the table is set for a race as wide open as the $12 million Dubai World Cup sponsored by Emirates Airline (G1) of 2019, the ensuing proverbial chess match meets the absolute apex of horseracing excitement.

While multiple storylines exist—as they often do in a complex renewal of any world-class race—one that shines in this year’s edition is that of the luckless and much-loved North America, a truly local product and hero trained at Zabeel Stables by Satish Seemar.

Big in size and style, the front-running 7-year-old bay son of Dubawi who failed to break in last year’s event—losing all chance as one of the favourites—has returned with a vengeance in 2019, winning both his starts on the local dirt in emphatic style.

On Wednesday, in the official post position draw, he landed in barrier three among the 13 set to contest the 2000m affair. Jockey Richard Mullen will team up with Ramzan Kadyrov’s imposing gelding for a 12th time, hoping for an eighth victory.

“Given we both break on terms, it looks the pace will be between my horse North America and Capezzano,” Mullen said. “I think North America has more natural speed than Capezzano, so I hope that will leave us in front to dictate and use the huge stride pattern he has once we get into the back straight.

“I am happier with him being drawn outside Capezzano. If it was the other way around, he would be able pressure us, but we might have that advantage now. Thunder Snow will probably be up close, as he has shown in the past from wide draws. I think Axelrod is another that could be racing prominently.”

Trainer Saeed bin Suroor had little choice after Thunder Snow’s name was second last to be picked during the draw ceremony at Meydan Racecourse on Wednesday.

“It was a long wait and with only the two widest gates to choose from,” said Bin Suroor, the Dubai World Cup’s most successful trainer with eight titles dating back to 1996.

“He won last year from Gate No 10 but is in 12 this time. It’s still good from our side. I know the horse has a good turn of foot to take a good position early.

DUBAI WORLD CUP DRAW

1. Gunnevera

2. Capezzano

3. North America

4. Audible

5. Seeking The Soul

6. Pavel

7. Gronkowski

8. Axelrod

9. New Trails

10. Yoshida

11. K T Brave

12. Thunder Snow

13. Dolkong 

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