Ipi Tombe in Dubai

After a break of seven months, Ipi Tombe returned to the races fresh and fit and ready to set the racing world on fire.

Her first start in Dubai came on February 6, 2003, in the Listed Stakes Al Fahidi Fort (click for video link). As a Group 1 winner, Ipi was sent off as the high weight in a field of males, carrying 127.6 pounds and conceding 2.2 pounds to the colts. Despite this weight penalty, Ipi made short work of her competition, winning the roughly one mile race easily by 2 1/4 lengths in 1:37, a new course record. She took the old record, set in 2000, down by 1.3 seconds, an incredible feat considering most records are only broken by a few hundredths of a second these days.

Here is a wonderful quote about the race from the Team Valor website: "It was just a cake walk for her," said racing secretary Kevin Greely, the brother of California trainer Beau Greely and son of former Keeneland president Bill Greely. "You know, this was no hollow field. Although it is just a Listed race, it is Group 2 in quality. Wow, was she impressive."

On March 9, 2003, Ipi Tombe again went postward, and with equal ease, she won her sixth race in a row and her second straight in Dubai. She once again set a record, shattering the stakes record in winning the 1 1/8 mile G3 Jebel Hatta in 1:48.62 (click for video link). She was again the high-weight in a field of males, and she disposed of them easily by 3 3/4 lengths. She was eased in the stretch or the margin would have been even greater.

On March 29, 2003, Ipi Tombe stole the show on Dubai World Cup day. As the only filly in the Dubai Duty Free (click for video link), a 9 furlong turf race, she carried 55kg to the 57kg carried by the boys, but it didn't matter as she was much the best horse in the field. Coming out of the last turn, she was carried quite wide and was caught in the pack. She looked hopelessly beaten, far back from the leaders, but Kevin Shea saw her clear and brought her to the front in the middle of the track. She bore in a little on Paolini, the German horse who had forced her wide, but she straightened out and sprinted away from him to win by at least three lengths. As Barry Irwin of Team Valor said after the race, "she has heart in spades." She won in a speedy 1:47.61, a new track record, the second Ipi set in Dubai. Kevin Shea said afterward, "Mike [de Kock] told me to be patient as we knew about how she can quicken. I allowed her plenty of time to settle and I switched her off, but when I asked her for her effort, the hairs went up on the back of my neck. She was absolutely awesome."

After the race, Paolini's jockey filed an objection against Ipi, claiming that she impeded Paolini when she bore in on him. The two horses never touched, though, and the claim was withdrawn. As owner Barry Irwin said, "The only impact our filly had on him was that she went by him so fast, the wind she created might have altered his stride" (Team Valor news, 3/31/03) For an excellent video clip of the full race, please see the link at the bottom of the aforementioned Team Valor news page.

After her three race tour de force at Nad Al Sheba, Ipi was named 2003 Dubai Horse of the Year.

Ipi winning the Al Fahidi Fort in Dubai (Photo by Team Valor)

Ipi winning the Jebel Hatta at Dubai (Photo by Team Valor)

Ipi in a workout in Dubai on March 24, 2003

Ipi pulling ahead in the Dubai Duty Free

Ipi winning the Dubai Duty Free (Photo by Team Valor)

On to USA