Racehorse North America has best chance to land Dubai World Cup glory

North America, owned by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, looks the best candidate to win the Dubai World Cup at Meydan. (Dubai Racing Club/AW)
Updated 11 March 2018
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Racehorse North America has best chance to land Dubai World Cup glory

DUBAI: Sifting through the debris of the four dirt races at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai on Super Saturday, whichever way you look at it Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has a fair chance of lifting the Dubai World Cup on March 31 with North America.
The hulking son of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid’s wonder sire Dubawi motored to a stunning success in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round Three, blitzing the great California Chrome’s course record achieved in the 2016 World Cup to set a new benchmark of 2 minutes 01.71s.
Drawn six in a field of 12, Richard Mullen seized the lead and from there North America was never headed.
The winner was aided considerably by Mullen’s ability to angle on to that rail to race on what has amounted to a golden highway for much of the Dubai World Cup Carnival this season.
All four dirt winners on Saturday; North America, Jordan Sport, Kimbear and Yulong Warrior were drawn in low-figure gates and raced prominently or led. Watch North America’s race again and it is a wonder he did not dip under the fabled two minutes in the 2000-meter event, such was the blend of lightning early pace before his sustained power held at bay old Godolphin rival and two-time Group One winner Thunder Snow by just over five lengths.
Kadyrov has long held a fascination with racing in Dubai, and his late swoops to buy fancied horses in order to secure a win on the most valuable night in world racing are famous in Dubai. The controversial strongman bought North America 12 months ago in an effort to bid to win the Godolphin Mile, but overnight rain scuttled any hope of victory and he trailed in tenth behind Second Summer.
North America may well be the best candidate trained in Dubai for the World Cup, but connections of international rivals such as favorite West Coast, Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner Forever Unbridled and even Godolphin’s French raider Talismanic will hardly be quaking ahead of their trip to the Gulf.
Unless North America draws close to the rail in the big one.
“He breaks so well and we were able to be two or so lengths clear at the bend,” Mullen said. “It was a dominant display and he is a horse who we always have faith in.”
Mullen, who is one of the most experienced riders plying their trade in the UAE, showed he had a clear understanding of the faster strip of ground when he guided Yulong Warrior to an upset victory earlier in the day in the Al Bastikiya, the second leg of the UAE Triple Crown that culminates in the UAE Derby.
Drawn in gate one, Mullen bounced his mount out to grab the lead on the rail and the pair never looked back. They won by a monstrous 11 and a half lengths. It was the perfect ride from Mullen, whose ground-saving skills enabled the winner to travel a full ten meters less throughout the race than complete outsider and runner-up Nordic Defense.
Unlike North America, Yulong Warrior’s win does not put him at the apex of the local challenge for the UAE Derby as that mantle is held by Gold Town, Godolphin’s visually stunning UAE 2000 Guineas winner. With top Irish trainer Aidan O’Brien having already pledged to run Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner Mendelssohn, who warmed up for his visit to Meydan with a smooth win on the all-weather surface of Dundalk in Ireland on Friday, the Derby looks a tough spot for the Al Bastikiya winner.
The UAE Derby is a race that confers 100 Kentucky Derby points to the winner, but it remains to be seen if the owners of Yulong Warrior believe he is up to that level. They have until March 19 to stump up $6,000 to pitch him in to the Run For The Roses.
“He has surprised me how much he has improved from last time but the nice, low draw has helped him in both of his wins,” Mullen admitted.
“There should be more to come from him but the UAE Derby will be a stronger race again. Fingers crossed we get a nice draw in that as well.” It does not sound like the owners will.
Jordan Sport won the Mahab Al Shimaal, the prep race for the Dubai Golden Shaheen sprint, in record time by leading on the inside, while Kimbear also won the Burj Nahaar, a springboard to the Godolphin Mile, with a cosy inside post position.
Both would have a chance on World Cup night if drawn similarly.
The three turf races, which were all won by Godophin, look unlikely to be key indicators of success in three weeks.
Charlie Appleby’s Jungle Cat, who won the Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint, has already shown he is not up to winning the Al Quoz Sprint. Godolphin’s former handicapper Blair House enjoyed a fortuitous run up the inside of favorite Benbatl in the Group One Jebel Hatta, and does not look good enough in a hot Dubai Turf. Hawkbill was undeniably impressive in the Group Two Dubai City Of Gold, but has been found wanting at Group One level far too many times to be a factor in the Dubai Sheema Classic.


Amir Khan says agreement made for Manny Pacquiao Riyadh bout in November

Updated 16 July 2019
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Amir Khan says agreement made for Manny Pacquiao Riyadh bout in November

  • The two boxers came close to a fight in 2017, but negotiations fell through
  • The two boxers are known to be good friends and spent years sparring with each in the US

LONDON: British boxer Amir Khan said on Tuesday that a deal has been agreed for a fight against Manny Pacquiao on November 8 in Saudi Arabia.
Speaking at his gym in the British city of Bolton the former world champion said the fight would happen in Riyadh, adding that the bout had been “signed by both parties.”
Pacquiao, 40, has a scheduled fight with American Keith Thurman in Las Vegas on Saturday and, barring any potential rematch, would be available to fight Khan in the Kingdom.
“It’s on, unless he gets injured or he says he is going to retire after the fight and then the fight won’t happen, but he is interested in the fight as well,” Khan told Boxing Social.
The two boxers came close to a fight in 2017, but negotiations fell through and the bout never materialized.

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READ MORE: Amir Khan beats Billy Dib in Jeddah on ‘fight night of the year’

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“It is going to be amazing, because it’s been a long time we’ve been chasing that fight. I’ve been chasing the big names like (Floyd) Mayweather and Pacquiao for a long, long time but those fights never happened.
“But now it has come to a stage where we both signed on that dotted line, so hopefully he is going to be the next (fight).
“To have him sign that dotted line is brilliant and no matter how he does against Thurman, I still think it’s a big fight.
“Hopefully he comes out of it in one piece in his next fight against Keith, which is a hard fight and not an easy one for him, and we will take it from there.”
The British boxer, 32, scored a stoppage win over Australia’s Billy Dib in Saudi Arabia last Friday and soon after his win was talking up the prospect of landing Pacquiao as his next fight.

Eight-division world champion boxer Manny Pacquiao smiles as he arrives for a workout in Hollywood, California on July 10. (AFP/File Photo)

On the prospect of returning to Saudi Arabia, Khan said his experience in the Dib fight had been “amazing” and that it was hard to turn down a deal to fight in the Kingdom.
“I was little bit nervous, because I did not know what to expect — whether it would be full or not, or if people would turn up to support — but it was amazing. I think the next one is going to be even bigger.
“The experience was awesome, I was looked after by the GSA (General Sports Authority) and the Saudi government took good care of us, the gyms were amazing. I would love to go back over there.”
When asked if he ever doubted whether his dream fight against Pacquiao would happen, Khan agreed.
“I’ve waited so long but you cannot really put all your eggs in one basket, and definitely say this is going to be the next fight.

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READ MORE: Gloves off as world champion boxer Amir Khan dreams of ‘more fights in Saudi Arabia’

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“I hope it is him but we will have to look at back up plans. I’ve always wanted to fight him. It’s the biggest fight out there for me,” he told the BBC.
The two boxers are known to be good friends and spent years sparring with each in the US while training under the mentorship of trainer Freddie Roach.
The Filipino legend has not yet officially announced any bout with Khan and on social media appears focused on Saturday’s fight.
“When I sparred him he was at his peak,” Khan said. “I got good rounds with him and did really well. I have probably sparred between 200 and 300 rounds with him. He has slowed down a bit.”
Pacquiao has 61 wins, seven defeats and two draws in a 24-year professional career, while Khan has 34 wins and five defeats.