Saturday 24 February 2018

Mick Halford's Certerach wins the Dubai Gold Cup in Meydan

Trainer Mick Halford
Trainer Mick Halford

Neil Morrice

Jamie Spencer punched the air with delight, but connections were made to sweat as 33-1 chance Certerach caused a big upset in the Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan.

Trained in Ireland by Michael Halford, who excels with his runners in the Gulf, Certerach had an awful lot to find on form.

But Spencer was always in the right place and edged his way past his pacesetting compatriot Ralston Road with about a furlong to run.

Last year's winner Cavalryman, the 7-4 favourite for the Godolphin stable, got himself into all sorts of trouble and was rapidly gaining at the line, but he ran out of time. Star Empire finished third.

There was drama, however, as Cavalryman's jockey Silvestre de Sousa claimed Certerach had impeded him.

"The winner came right across me and took my ground, otherwise I would have won," he said.

There was a stewards' inquiry but an objection was withdrawn, reportedly by Sheikh Mohammed himself, and the result stood.

Halford said: "This is beyond our wildest dreams. The horse has had a great Carnival and this time last year he picked up an injury in the Nad Al Sheba.

"He's really grown up since then. I wasn't aware of the objection until I got to see Jamie but he said he thought we'd be OK.

"He's a strong stayer and we'll definitely think about the Ascot Gold Cup and the Melbourne Cup."

Spencer said: "I rode him once last year when he was beaten in a photo.

"He's a very nice spare to pick up and Shane Foley told me exactly how to ride the horse.

"He quickened well to get to the lead and, if anything, he idled in front. We only just held on."

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