The stayers' division in Europe looks set for a competitive season if we are to judge its prospects from the outcome of the Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup Sponsored By Al Tayer Motors at Meydan this afternoon.
Beautiful Romance, who has excelled since moving up to longer trips, looked set for victory when going clear in the straight, but Vazirabad and Sheikhzayedroad were closing steadily, with the former catching the mare close to the finish to win by a neck.
There was a gap of one and a quarter lengths back to Sheikhzayedroad in third with Big Orange another half-length behind in fourth, and they finished four and a half lengths and more clear of the rest. The race was over two miles and the turf was yielding.
This was an alteration to the placings from when the first three met in last month's Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy over 14 furlongs at the same venue as, on that occasion, Vazirabad failed to catch Beautiful Romance, who had again taken up the running three from home. She landed the spoils by one and a half lengths and Sheikhzayedroad was again third, that time finishing three and a quarter lengths behind the Aga Khan's homebred gelding.
Vazirabad is trained in France by Alain de Royer-Dupre and he has now won 10 of his 15 starts. These include last year's Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup, in which he beat Big Orange by a neck, plus two editions of the Group 1 Prix Royal-Oak, among other pattern events.
The millionaire is a son of the top-class international performer Manduro (by Monsun), who stands at Haras du Logis, and he is both the seventh foal and one of seven winners out of the talented Visorama (by Linamix).
She won the Group 3 Prix de Flore and Listed Prix Charles Laffitte, she was runner-up in the Group 2 Prix Corrida and third in the Group 1 Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, and her successful septet also includes the pattern-placed stakes-winner Visoriyna (by Dansili).
That filly, who is a year older than Vazirabad, is also a member of the Aga Khan's powerful broodmare band and her first foal is a Sea The Stars (by Cape Cross) filly born 14 months ago. Visorama, on the other hand, did not have a foal between the arrival of Vazirabad and of a Sinndar (by Grand Lodge) colt born in early February 2016.
There is no surprise that Visorama has done well at stud as she is one of six blacktype horses among nine winners for her own dam, Visor (by Mr Prospector), a roll of honour that is headed by the Group 1 Prix de la Foret scorer Varenar (by Rock Of Gibraltar).
Half-brother Visindar (by Sinndar) won the Group 2 Prix Greffulhe, Visorama's stakes-winning full-brother Visionary was third in the Group 1 Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French 2000 Guineas), and Visionnaire (by Linamix) notched up a string of pattern-race placings that included third in both the Group 1 Prix de Diane (French Oaks) and Group 1 Prix Saint-Alary.
Visionnaire is also carrying on the family's good name at stud as she is responsible for the Group 3 Prix La Rochette and dual listed race winner Visionario (by Spinning World) and for the pattern-placed pair Visiyani (by Rock Of Gibraltar) and Vison Celebre (by Peintre Celebre), as well as being the grandam of last year's Group 3 Prix La Force runner-up Viserano (by Rock Of Gibraltar).
Visor, who is a half-sister to a dual listed race winner in the USA, is also the dam of Viyadana (by Azamour), who is the unraced dam of last year's Japanese nine-furlong Group 3 scorer Danon Major (by Daiwa Major).
Look (by Spectacular Bid), the winning third dam of Vazirabad, is out of the Grade 3 Long Island Handicap and Grade 3 Chrysanthemum Handicap winner Tuerta (by Forli) and that makes her a half-sister to the tragically ill-fated US champion three-year-old Swale (by Seattle Slew).
He was a leading juvenile of 1983, when he won the Grade 1 Futurity Stakes, Grade 1 Young America Stakes, Grade 2 Breeders' Futurity and Grade 2 Saratoga Special Stakes, and he secured his championship title with victories in the Grade 1 Florida Derby, Grade 1 Kentucky Derby and Grade 1 Belmont Stakes the following year. But just a week after the latter success, the Claiborne Farm homebred had a fatal heart attack.