Doug O’Neill’s four-year-old colt too strong in G2 Longines Maktoum Challenge Round
In bringing their star colt to Dubai in mid-January, to prep over the track for the $12million Emirates Airline Dubai World Cup, the team behind Hot Rod Charlie was following a tried and tested route.
Curlin, successful in 2008, and California Chrome in 2016, both arrived from the US and took in local preps before winning the big one. Now, Doug O’Neill’s Hot Rod Charlie has taken the first step along the same road, winning Group 2 Maktoum Challenge Round 2 [Presented by Longines Record], over 1900metres, 100 metres short of the World Cup trip.
He didn’t have it easy, however. Ridden by William Buick, deputizing for Flavien Prat, the son of Oxbow broke well from his post in three and made the lead, but was pushed all the way by Al Nefud, ridden by Ryan Moore. Turning for home, there was a brief moment when that rival threatened, but when asked for his effort, Hot Rod Charlie responded in spades. He eventually crossed the line, ears pricked, five and quarter lengths clear of Al Nefud, who made a fine Group race debut for trainer Bhupat Seemar.
With part-owners Patrick O’Neill and Bill Strauss in Dubai to cheer on Hot Rod Charlie, trainer O’Neill was relieved to get the first part of the job done.
“It’s been such a great journey; let’s hope there are more chapters to come”, said the dual Kentucky Derby-winning handler. “We took a little different approach with him; we didn’t train him too hard going into this. However, we knew we had plenty of time to get him ready for the Dubai World Cup.
“He’s a horse who is just loaded with class. It was a strong field tonight, but William rode him with a ton of class and a ton of confidence.