African Story Aims For New Chapter In Dubai World Cup
Time/Date - 21.00hrs local time/Saturday, March 28, 2015
Racecourse/Country - Meydan/UAE
Surface/Distance - Dirt/1m 2f
African Story bids to become the first dual winner of the Group One Dubai World Cup Sponsored By Emirates Airline at Meydan, UAE on Saturday, March 28.
Prince Bishop also runs for Godolphin in the world's richest race, worth US$10 million and over a mile and a quarter on dirt.
Both eight-year-olds are trained by Saeed bin Suroor, with African Story having stormed to a famous victory by two and three quarter lengths in the 2014 Dubai World Cup Sponsored By Emirates Airline, which was run on Tapeta.
African Story has made two appearances, both on the dirt at Meydan, since that terrific victory and came home seventh in the Group Two Al Maktoum Challenge Round Two Empowered by IPIC over nine and a half furlongs on February 5.
He improved significantly on that effort in the Group One Al Maktoum Challenge Round Three Sponsored By Emirates Airline over a mile and a quarter on Saturday, March 7, when he stayed on powerfully to beat Prince Bishop by a neck.
Prince Bishop ran on strongly to go down by a head to Frankyfourfingers on his seasonal return in the Al Maktoum Challenge Round Two Empowered by IPIC.
He was successful in Round Two and Round Three of the Al Maktoum Challenge last year, but could only finish ninth in the 2014 Dubai World Cup Sponsored By Emirates Airline after missing the break.
James Doyle partners African Story, with William Buick taking the ride on Prince Bishop.
Saeed bin Suroor commented: "It is a small field and I don't think the draw matters too much as long as both horses start well which is very important.
"African Story, drawn three, and Prince Bishop, drawn one, need to be handy in the race.
"They have worked well, are happy, in good condition and ready to go.
"African Story won the Dubai World Cup on Tapeta last year and Round Three of the Maktoum Challenge on dirt last time out.
"After he won last year, it was always the plan to bring him back for the Dubai World Cup.
"The surface he races on doesn't make any real difference to him as good horses handle any surface but we want to try and keep both our horses out of the kickback as much as possible.
"African Story has a good turn of foot and can take any position in the race for James Doyle.
"Prince Bishop had a little problem in the past when he jumped from the stalls but I hope that he can start better this time.
"He is tough and has done well this year. He was close to African Story on his latest outing and worked well earlier this week.
"I am happy with him and we will talk to William Buick about keeping him in a handy position this time.
"It will be very tough racing against California Chrome from America, though our horses have been doing very well."
James Doyle said: "I would have preferred a wider draw than three on African Story. Most of the speed seems to be on the outside which is a worry.
"It was a bit of shock to African Story the first time he ran on dirt, with the kickback and all that. Though you must to remember it was his first start since winning the Dubai World Cup last year and he need the race a lot.
"He adapted better the second time and it was good to see him get his act together on the dirt. I was pleased with the performance in the Maktoum Challenge and he battled well - it gives a lot more confidence going into the World Cup.
"African Story has a great following. He is certainly a high-class racehorse but history is against us and we need to give massive respect to the Americans, Californian Chrome and Lea, who are proper dirt horses, and the Japanese contenders.
"We need a bit of luck on our side but hopefully African Story can run a good race."
William Buick remarked: "We have all seen Prince Bishop this year - he has run very well in defeat both times and should have won both times, no question about it, as he gave himself a lot to do.
"He does not seem to travel early in these races - he handles the surface but the kickback and the increased pace does not help him.
"He has now had two runs and got experience of racing on dirt. The draw is done now and I am very positive about the horse - he has a big heart and tries very hard.
"The one thing to our advantage is that if he does travel, we will get the rail's run and the horse is in great shape. Saeed and the whole team are very happy with him.
"I am going into the race hopeful. Prince Bishop and African Story are the home team and have not had to travel. Saeed has planned running in the Dubai World Cup for both these horses since the start of the year and, with a bit of luck, who knows."
African Story and Prince Bishop face seven opponents including Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner California Chrome, Japan Cup victor Epiphaneia and Donn Handicap scorer Lea.