Easy does it as Just A Way wins pulling away from field

Jockey Fukunaga switches plans and finds another gear in the Dubai Duty Free race at Dubai World Cup. Geoffrey Riddle reports .

Just A Way and jockey Yuichi Fukunaga found their way to the front in the Dubai Duty Free. Pawan Singh / The National
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DUBAI // On a night when the running results at Meydan Racecourse was dominated by horses from the Far East, Just A Way ran out a deeply impressive winner of the Dubai Duty Free.

The buzz that had preceded the five-year-old Japanese horse was fully justified as he galloped down the stretch under jockey Yuichi Fukunaga to thrash Vercingetorix, the Jebel Hatta winner, by a seemingly effortless six-and-a-quarter lengths.

Dank, the British filly, was third, another length and three quarters behind in the US$5 million (Dh18.4m) race.

Just A Way’s sire is Heart’s Cry, the 2006 Dubai Sheema Classic winner.

Naosuke Sugai, the trainer, was quick to underline the importance of Japanese bloodstock at setting up a sixth win for his country at the World Cup meeting.

“It is a very happy thing to bring a horse to Meydan that is sired by a winner at one of the greatest racing events in the world,” Sugai said.

Just A Way came into the race having beaten Gentildonna, who subsequently won the Dubai Sheema Classic, in the Tenno Sho in October. In that race, Fukunaga held up his mount before unleashing a power-packed run to win by four lengths.

It was a tactic that worked well again. Another Japanese raider, Tokei Halo, set a decent pace from the Hong Kong challenger Blazing Speed, with Fukunaga anchored in the rear.

As the field swung around the bend with 500 metres to run, Just A Way was still second last.

Barely 200m later Just A Way had hit the front and the race was all over. Sugai was in awe of Fukunaga’s timing.

“We had two tactics before the race,” Sugai said. “The first plan was to chase the leader from a good position as we had a good draw in gate 2. Our other plan was to sit in behind in the midfield as we did in the Tenno Sho. It didn’t go to our first plan, so the jockey chose the second plan and rode the best race I have ever seen.”

Fukunaga revealed that it was a tardy start that forced his hand to choose Plan B.

“He didn’t jump very well and before the race we thought Anaerobio would have a strong finish so I successfully found that horse in front of me,” he said.

“I chased him and in the straight Just A Way sprinted away very well. He was very impressive.”

Any thoughts that Just A Way’s win over Gentildonna was a fluke were completely dispelled on Saturday night.

Just A Way was third in the most recent thoroughbred world rankings, alongside Akeed Mofeed and Military Attack, last night’s World Cup runners from Hong Kong.

After Saturday night, the five-year-old can be considered the best turf horse on the planet.

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