International Intrigue: Chechen President Buys Sheema Classic Contender

In yet another vivid demonstration of the vast global reach of the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) program, the president of Chechnya swooped on Friday to purchase Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I) contender Mourilyan.

The four-year-old son of Desert Prince will carry the president's red, white and green colors in the $5 million race on Saturday, although it will be too late for the switch to be made in the official program.

A brief announcement of the change in ownership from the Aga Khan, who also bred Mourilyan, issued by the Dubai Racing Club did not reveal new owner Ramzan Kadyrov's political position, but Chief Steward Gerard Bush confirmed that he is indeed the president of Chechnya.

Kadyrov also will be represented on the World Cup program by UAE Derby (UAE-II) contender Rock Ascot, a Uruguayan-bred stakes winner he purchased about a month ago who is trained by Doug Watson.

Although the remarkable tends to be commonplace in Dubai, it did seem somewhat unusual on Friday afternoon when two Rolls Royce vehicles cruised into the backstretch area at Nad Al Sheba escorted by Dubai police. Kadyrov, a staunch ally of Russia, was said to be in one of the vehicles, but it has not been announced whether he plans to attend Saturday's racing program to watch his two runners.

Mourilyan is regarded as a very promising colt after winning four of seven career starts. In three starts during the Dubai International Racing Carnival, the colt won two and finished second by a half-length to Sheema Classic rival Gower Song in the Dubai City of Gold (UAE-III). John Oxx has trained Mourilyan, who has earned $214,969 after beginning his career with two wins in four starts in Ireland.

Kadyrov will be the third major political leader to be represented on the Dubai World Cup program, joining Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum and Saudi Arabian King Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz al Saud.

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