Royal Delta has point to prove in World Cup

Bill Mott managed to win the first ever Dubai World Cup but he still has a little unfinished business with the richest horse race on the planet.

Superior mare Royal Delta encountered traffic problems during last year’s event and could only finish ninth behind Monterosso but went on to collect her second consecutive Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic.

She hits Meydan today on the back of a pleasing prep run at Gulfstream and Mott, whose wonder-horse Cigar landed the 1996 renewal, is delighted to have returned.

“We decided we’d come back before she’d left last year, but we’re pleased she has earned her way again after she was voted champion, won a Breeders’ Cup and ran well throughout the year.”

Referring to 12 months ago, Mott said: ” It was frustrating and disappointing but I couldn’t taken anything away from her. We had a little bit of a rough trip but that’s racing luck.

“We’re here for a reason and that’s to give her the opportunity to see if she is good enough.

“I’d like to be able to show everybody she is better than the final outcome last year and I hope it turns out well for her.

“She won on the synthetic in the States and we felt she gets over this track and stretches over it.”

There is a fiercely-strong American challenge to take the World Cup for the ninth time with Animal Kingdom and Dullahan lining up too.

Animal Kingdom, restricted to just a handful of runs must overcome and outside draw of 12 from 13.

Gary Stevens, the legendary American rider, only recently made a sensational return to the saddle after being retired for seven years.

The 50-year-old, who collected the 1998 World Cup, is aboard Dullahan, who was well beaten by African Story when Kieren Fallon partnered him in a Group Three at Meydan.

“Dullahan is a specialist on a synthetic surface, with three wins back home on it including the Pacific Classic,” said Stevens.

“Dullahan has a great finish over the final 600, and my job is to put him in the right place in the race to produce that.”

Sheikh Mohammed has a five-strong team in various colours and with several trainers.

Leading the way is last year’s hero Monterosso, but he was beaten a long way by Hunter’s Light in the Al Maktoum Challenge.

Hunter’s Light now looks Godolphin’s number one, ahead of the re-invigorated African Story.

Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford said: “Our five horses are good and they love this track.

“Monterosso won last year but he has had a few small issues since. He didn’t run well in the Eclipse and he was a little bit disappointing when he ran in the last leg of the Al Maktoum Challenge.

“Yes Monterosso has improved for his run, but he needs to show that he has improved a great deal from what we saw the other day.

“You have to like African Story and Hunter’s Light for a small piece of it — hopefully one of them is good enough to win but we will find out.

Leading British runner appears to be Planteur, who was third 12 months ago and dominated a recent Lingfield pipe-opener from the front.

Trainer Marco Botti said “We know the horse more than the previous year, and it was always hard to get him fit for the World Cup.

“This year we have been able to give him a prep race and I’m sure he has come on a lot for that run.

“He needs a little bit of cut in the ground to give his best, but he looks in the best shape he has been for a long time. I’m pleased with the draw (seven). ”

Globe-trotter Red Cadeaux has his latest adventure with trainer Ed Dunlop hoping he can pick up some prize money while Side Glance is an outsider for Andrew Balding.

Andre Fabre’s French runner Meandre starts for the first time in the colours of Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov.

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