After a dazzling Dubai Turf (G1) in 2021, and a dead-heat in his 2022 title defense, Lord North made history in Saturday’s $6 million renewal by becoming the race’s first-ever three-time winner. Jockey Frankie Dettori has long loved the Dubawi gelding, who will hold an even more special place in his heart, now that he’s carried him to one final win on Dubai World Cup night.
Dettori will retire at season’s end, so Saturday marked his last opportunity to ride at Meydan’s signature festival. The all-time leading jockey in World Cup night events, Dettori increased his record number of wins to 23.
Lord North is responsible for three of those. The John and Thady Gosden veteran is only the second Thoroughbred to turn a three-peat in the same race on Dubai World Cup night; the first was the great French stayer Vazirabad in the Dubai Gold Cup (G2) (2016-18). Thunder Snow is another to win three times on the big night, but in a couple of different races – the 2017 UAE Derby (G2) and 2018-19 editions of the Dubai World Cup (G1).
“It’s amazing to win once; three times, it’s unreal,” Dettori said. “Thady has done an amazing job because he’s a horse that gets sick quite easily, that’s why he doesn’t run that often. The boys got him ready for this race and full credit to them, they’ve done great with him.
“And Lord North himself, what a star. To just get one on the board at this beautiful place, in Dubai that has been my home for so many winters, it’s pretty special.”
Indeed, Lord North did well to share the spoils with Panthalassa last year, while still rounding into form after a significant setback. The seven-year-old was returning in grand fettle this time, in the wake of a sharp score in the Feb. 25 Winter Derby (G3) at Lingfield. But in addition to the weight of history in the Dubai Turf, Lord North was facing a stellar field including top performers from Japan and Godolphin. Hence he ended up offering some value as he paid his loyalists $11.60.
Comfortably settled in midpack with cover, Lord North had clear sailing to deliver his trademark late flourish. Meanwhile, Godolphin’s Nations Pride had worked out a decent trip from the far outside post, tracking pacesetter El Drama before pouncing in the stretch. But Nations Pride’s wheelhouse is a touch further, and Lord North had the superior kick to finish about 1 1/8 miles in 1:47.39.
Japan’s Danon Beluga has fierce acceleration too, only he couldn’t deploy until it was too late. Dropping back more than expected near the rear, and having to maneuver for a passage, he flew for second, but Lord North had three-quarters of a length to spare.
Third-placer Nations Pride was just headed on the line. Shirl’s Speight had a troubled trip en route to grabbing fourth. Serifos, the favorite from Japan, had every chance, but didn’t finish off as strongly as at a metric mile, and wound up fifth. Andre Fabre’s Junko looked outpaced before staying on for sixth, an effort that he can build upon back in France. Alfareeq, El Drama, Real World, Sir Busker, Order of Australia, Glorious Dragon, Master of the Seas, and Vin de Garde concluded the order of finish. Do Deuce and Shelir were scratched.
Sheikh Zayed bin Mohammed Racing’s Lord North has compiled a mark of 20-10-3-1, reflecting wins in the 2020 Prince of Wales’s (G1) at Royal Ascot and Brigadier Gerard (G3).
“The first time he won the race (the Dubai Turf) he showed a nice turn of foot,” Thady Gosden said, “and then last year his preparation wasn’t quite as straightforward as this year. The lad who rides him out every day thought he was in much better form than coming into last year. Obviously you can’t say that beforehand in case it all goes wrong.
“It was a little bit messy in the mid-part of the race and coming into the bend, but he missed any trouble and showed a great turn of foot to get to the front. He broke well from (post) 3 and the strong pace up front definitely helped him; he got a nice tow into it and he picked up as we know he can.
“It’s fantastic and thanks to everyone at home in the yard, to the horse and to Frankie as well. He’s a homebred gelding and it’s fantastic for him to come here and win a race of this quality three times on the trot.”
The next three home are all looking to turn the page.
“The horse has run a fantastic race,” jockey Joao Moreira said of runner-up Danon Beluga. “Unfortunately we didn’t have a smooth run at the top of the straight, a horse pulled me wide a little bit. However the horse showed that he’s got a lot of quality and he should be winning his Group 1 before too long.”
Nations Pride, who had a terrific stateside sojourn last summer, will be back on his travels.
“He’s run a solid kind of race having had to work harder from that draw,” trainer Charlie Appleby said, “and it probably cost us second. We wouldn’t have beaten the winner, but hopefully he’s going to have a nice summer internationally ahead of him over the 10 furlongs.”
Antonio Fresu, who rode Shirl’s Speight, believed that he would have been in the trifecta with a smoother trip.
“I got in traffic and was sent back further than I wanted; he was shuffled big time,” Fresu said. “He finished very well, had to find his way through horses. He was unlucky not to be closer.”