Racing

Quechua tried but the distance did him in

Shaw and Le Grange proud of their Kranji champ's effort in the 3,200m Dubai Gold Cup

Although disappointed, the Singapore connections of QUECHUA were not brooding over the performance of their star galloper who finished out of the placings in Saturday's US$1 million (S$1.4 million) Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup on Saturday.

In short, they accepted that the race distance of 3,200m did him in.

Trainer Ricardo Le Grange, extremely gracious in defeat, offered no excuses, saying the Pure Prize six-year-old just did not stay the two miles. Back at Kranji, Quechua had never ventured beyond 2,200m.

Looking back on the race, Le Grange said: "He just didn't stay. He had a beautifurun, Barend (Vorster) had him in a good spot but, at the half-mile when he dug him up, there was nothing left in the tank.

"Still, I'm proud of his effort."

Quechua's former trainer, Patrick Shaw, was also on hand at the parade ring together with the Singapore entourage made up of Avengers Stable owners Mark and Emily Yong and their two sons.

The semi-retired South African, who used to train Quechua and had his yard taken over by Le Grange in December, had before the race cast an experienced eye over the horse and declared he had never seen Quechua looking in better shape.

Speaking rather matter-of-factly, Shaw said: "He's a 2,200m-2,400m max, that's my opinion. We got an invite, we had to go, you haven't got a ticket, you haven't got a chance and we had a go.

"We tried and it never worked. Ricky will have to go back to the drawing board."

In the race run on Dubai World Cup Day at Meydan, Dubai's racing jewel, Le Grange's Argentinian-bred travelled in an ideal spot three pairs back for Vorster but, when race-leader Big Orange, ridden by Frankie Dettori, upped the tempo at the 800m mark, the first signals of distress began to flare up.

The Singapore Gold Cup-Singapore Derby winner had started to backpedal. Sensing they were conceding ground, Vorster used his whip as he tried to squeeze another effort from his ailing mount.

Alas, it was already a lost cause.

Quechua compounded completely to finish 12th, while upfront, the race had turned into a battle between two horses.

Beautiful Romance (Oisin Murphy) looked to have the race all sewn up with Sheikhzayedroad (Martin Harley) safely held.

But last year's Dubai Gold Cup winner VAZIRABAD (Christophe Soumillon) was not going to let his crown slip away and the Aga Khan horse got up to win by a neck. Local favourite Sheikhzayedroad did well to hang on for third spot.

The winning time was 3min 22.52sec - about four seconds outside Brown Panther's record and three seconds outside Vazirabad's own timing in last year's Dubai Gold Cup when he defeated Big Orange by a neck.

Vorster said Quechua "had every chance, gave his all, but he just didn't stay". His mount finished 12th of 14 runners.

He added: "I had him in a beautiful position in the running but, at the 800m, and 500m-600m, when I asked for him to quicken, there was nothing there."