Daddy Long Legs (right): won without previous form on syntheticsPICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
Tapeta poses questions after World Cup night
WORLD CLASS: an analysis of the international scene according to Racing Post Ratings
SHEIKH MOHAMMED was delighted after Monterosso provided Godolphin with their first success in the Dubai World Cup since 2006.
It was the best World Cup result since the switch to Meydan and it crowned a fantastic night for the boys in blue, who also managed to top and tail the card with African Story and Opinion Poll.
But the legacy of this third meeting at Meydan may not turn out to be quite so rosy for the Emirates Emir, as the Tapeta surface once again overplayed its hand in proceedings.
Racing is about finding 'the best horse on the day'. Circumstances will often sway the result away from the best horse, but rarely does one factor alter the statement.
On the Tapeta at Meydan, however, it is starting to look like the statement should read: the best horse on the track on the day.
When the Dubai carnival switched to Tapeta in 2010 the main question was whether the surface would run more like dirt or turf. Frustratingly, however, it is starting to play like a distinct third surface with its own group of specialists.
On Saturday three of the four Tapeta races were won by horses already proven on the track. It was the same story in 2011 (three from four), while in 2010 all four had previously won on synthetics.
That means that ten of the 12 winners of World Cu p night Tapeta races had already won on a synthetic track; nine had already proved themselves at Meydan.
The two horses who managed to win without previous synthetics form were Victoire Pisa in the 2011 World Cup and Daddy Long Legs, who won the UAE Derby on Saturday.
Victoire Pisa won as a result of a canny ride, gutsing it out for a narrow victory and still running below his turf form, so his success hardly disproves the theory.
Daddy Long Legs is a dirt-bred turf horse from a multi-surface family and was therefore open to handling it on his first attempt. You could say he's a kaleidoscope horse from a kaleidoscope family and the synthetics three-year-olds he was up against did not look a particularly strong bunch.
From a sample of just 12, this synthetic specialism theory could easily dissipate in the next few years, but there is a strong enough trend across the three meetings to be very wary of backing (or running) horses unproven on the surface.
Trainers may choose to ignore these results and continue to plan their schedules as they did before, but if they do take note there will have to be changes to running plans.
Trainers may choose to prove their horses on synthetics before shipping to Dubai, or they may come over for the whole carnival rather than just World Cup night - with previous form at Meydan being particularly important to success.
Given the colossal prize money on offer there will always be a field for the World Cup, but you have to wonder whether running it on a third surface, which favours neither dirt or turf horses, will secure the best possible field.
America has a couple of synthetic tracks but dirt will always be their dominant surface. Europe also maintain some synthetic tracks, but the best races are all on turf and that doesn't look likely to change any time soon, yet Meydan wanders lonely as a cloud on Tapeta.
If it acted as an intermediate surface there would be an obvious attraction to hosting international races on Tapeta, but after three years it appears to be between nothing and nowhere, sitting rather as a third axis on the graph; a third bundle of form and ratings distinct from the rest.
Sometimes turf form translates onto dirt and sometimes those figures tally with Meydan form, but there is enough disparity to consider them three separate mediums, deserving three parallel form books.
African Story, Krypton Factor and Monterosso were all impressive winners at Meydan, but would each confirm that impression against the same rivals back on turf? One perhaps. Two at a push, but not all of them.
That is not to detract from what they achieved on Saturday. Run the races again and they would all be just as impressive - they were clearly the best on the track on the day.
They may not, however, be capable of the same dominance on turf, and turf just happens to be a more popular medium in the present day.
Perhaps they were born in the wrong century. In 100 years it might be all synthetic and these would be our ra cing gods. This year, however, they just top the z-axis standings, which offers no promise on their aptitude for the x or y.
It's not an ideal situation for a world championships.
They went a decent clip in Saturday's Dubai World Cup, as compared to the two previous slow-run affairs, and the result was a convincing, deserving winner.
Monterosso may have been 20-1, but he ranks as an average winner of the Dubai showpiece with an RPR of 126 - putting him alongside previous Godolphin victors Singspiel and Electrocutionist (turf horses, incidentally, who won on the dirt at Nad Al Sheba).
Monterosso's success may have been slightly unexpected, but he was rapidly progressive for Mark Johnston in 2010, improving his RPR on every start between January and June (from 74 to 116) and he has picked up that steep curve on the weekend.
He barely raced in the interim, winning a Group 2 on the turf in March 2011 on his first start for Godolphin, then running twice in unsatisfactory pace-biased events on the Tapeta.
His z-axis RPR of 126 may not translate directly back to the x-axis of turf but Singapore has been mentioned as a target and the International Cup generally only needs a low-120s figure for success, so he may be good enough.
Stablemate Capponi was another proven over the course and distance and he finished second to complete a 1-2 for Mahmood Al Zarooni, posting an RPR of 120.
On the turf Cityscape (126) posted the highest figure of the night by running away with the Dubai Duty Free, winning by four-and-a-quarter lengths in a record time.
It was a career best performance from the five-year-old who got a perfect trip on his first try at 1m1f and he should make his presence felt in top flight races back in Europe.
Last year's leading middle-distance horse Cirrus Des Aigles landed the Sheema Classic with an RPR of 125. That figure was matched by runner-up St Nicholas Abbey who showed a nice turn of foot to chase down the winner, losing out by a neck.
Golden Shaheen winner Krypton Factor (123) and Godolphin Mile hero African Story (121) both ran out impressive winners of their events. They both had plenty of recent course experience.
In the remaining races Daddy Long Legs earned a 117 in the UAE Derby, Ortensia ran to 115 in the Al Quoz Sprint and Opinion Poll hit 116 in the Gold Cup.
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