There were no hard-luck stories this time. Success Story led from the gate and while passed in the closing stages, battled on for a gutsy 3rd place at the Dubai Carnival meeting at Meydan on Thursday night.
In what always looked a very open race, Success Story, who was sent off at 10/1 in the UK betting markets, got away to a good start and under a tremendous ride by Tadhg O’Shea, was able to set a pace to his liking.
Success Story would lead the field of fourteen into the home straight and to the furlong pole only to see 9/2 chance Top Clearance and 11/2 American Hope close strongly down his outside to best him in the closing stages.
Under the urgings of O’Shea, the five-year-old would not be beaten out of the places though and held on for a very very good 3rd. He was two and a quarter lengths behind the winner on the line and a length ahead of fourth-placed Mind That Boy.
If there was a feeling of “what-if?” after Cheongu had some bad luck at the start and then lost a shoe in running when recording a creditable enough 5th of 8 on his own Dubai debut two weeks ago, this time there can be no such thoughts.
While only 3rd in what wasn’t the strongest race there’ll ever be, the result is no doubt a special moment for those who took him there. It also vindicates the decision of the Dubai authorities who took a chance on allowing the two relatively unknown Korean horses to travel.
Watts Village won in Japan in 2013 on a night that won’t be forgotten by those who saw it. However, with all due respect, that was an invitational race on a Tuesday night at Ohi. This was Thursday at Meydan, in a race open to horses from all over the world. Furthermore, Success Story (Peace Rules) is Korean-bred as well as trained. The result should serve as an incentive for Korean racing – from the breeding shed to the racetrack – to redouble its efforts to improve. Not many owners in Korea can share a top three placing with Sheikh Ahmed Al Maktoum and Godolphin but Lee Jong Hun just did, surely others will want to as well.
Plans for both Cheongu and Success Story are unconfirmed. Cheongu was originally set to be entered again next week but that may not happen. If Success Story comes out of the race in good condition and a suitable race can be found, he will get another chance.
All we could really have asked for before they went is for them to look like they belonged there. Success Story did that and more tonight.