A CASE Of You, the horse nobody wanted, struck a memorable victory for Ireland in the $1.5 million Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan on Saturday to spark emotional celebrations for connections.
Pre-race predictions the action would unfold down the grandstand rail proved accurate as A Case Of You, drawn closest to the near side in gate 16, raced handily under Ronan Whelan. The son of Hot Streak hit the front between the final two furlongs and never looked vulnerable thereafter, scoring by a length and a quarter from British raider Happy Romance, sparking a delighted reaction from trainer Ado McGuinness and his owners, led by Gary Devlin. Man Of Promise finished third, a neck further back.
Bred by Derek Iceton at Tara Stud, the winner could not attract €3,000 at the Goffs Sportsman’s Sale as a yearling. He began his career with trainer John McConnell before selling privately after winning the Group 3 Anglesey Stakes as a juvenile. This was the second Group 1 win of his career as he also landed the Prix de l’Abbaye at ParisLongchamp last October.
Ado McGuinness said: “I knew he had improved plenty from the last day. Ronan Whelan gave him a great ride; he was super cool. Ian Brennan has looked after him out here and has done a great job with him. He’s a very, very good horse. We might get some credit now!
“People said it was a weak Abbaye he won, but one thing is for sure it wasn’t a weak race today. He’s only four and he’ll only get better. I think he’ll win another Group 1 this year, and the long-term target at the end of the year will be back at the Breeders’ Cup.”
The winning rider added: “I was worried I might be getting there a bit early, but he was going so well. His last furlong is always his strongest and he’s such a tough and genuine horse. Five furlongs, six furlongs, soft ground, fast ground; it doesn’t matter to him. I love him.
“He came on so much from the prep run on Super Saturday. Having that experience stood to him and he improved so much from it. It means the world to all the team. To win such a big race at Meydan, it’s the stuff you dream of but don’t think will happen.”
Richard Hannon, trainer of Happy Romance, said: “I’m delighted with that; she’s run a really good race. She seems to be getting better and better and she’s earned some really nice money.” Jockey Sean Levey added: “I thought the draw maybe cost me a length and I think she would have been bang there with a better draw. She’s run a blinder and the year is young.”
Charlie Appleby, trainer of Man Of Promise (third) and Navan Crown (fourth), reflected: “I’m very pleased with Man Of Promise; he’s run a solid race again.
“Fair play to Ado McGuinness and his team as their horse has come on again and they got the rail. We all know that’s a good draw to have and to be fair to the filly of Richard’s [Happy Romance], she ran a smashing race too. It’s definitely a step up for Man Of Promise in what he’s achieved. Personally I think we could come back to five furlongs now with him, he’s a strong traveller.
“I’m delighted with Naval Crown. He’s done it all the right way round this time compared to what we saw in Saudi where we were far too keen and didn’t finish off. I think we could have opened a couple of doors for him as a potentially a sprinter in the making.”