DUBAI// Godolphin's European season may have started with a whimper but once the Dubai-based racing operation hit Glorious Goodwood in July their fortunes were quick to change, culminating in last weekend's St Leger win. Now their jockey, Frankie Dettori, has outlined Godolphin's plan to get out of the starting gates quickly for the inaugural Meydan season on home turf rather than waiting for the more important races at the end of the campaign.
"We will be there on January 28 with our knives sharpened and ready to go," said Dettori. "This first Dubai season at Meydan has been a big priority for us for a long time." Dettori said the stable would be bringing out their strongest runners from the outset to fight for honours on the two new tracks in front of the 60,000-seater Meydan grandstand. And the seats will be needed with the new development set to attract the world's best trainers and jockeys.
Godolphin are in the best form of any after claiming their first English Classic in five years last week with a one-two by Mastery, under Ted Durcan, and Kite Wood, ridden by Frankie Dettori, in the Doncaster St Leger. And they have been claiming victories all over Europe recently, with 38 winners in August alone. Godolphin will need to produce something special to rival their own results in Dubai last year, when trainer, Saeed bin Suroor, topped the Dubai International Racing Carnival trainers' championship with 21 winners from 35 horses, almost twice as many as nearest competitor, Mike de Kock who had 12 from 34.
Those statistics could be improved if a glance at the stable at Al Quoz is anything to go by. Godolphin boasts an exciting crop of juveniles which has dominated the English two-year-old scene over the last two months. "We are going to have our full squad out for Dubai," said Dettori. "All our best horses will be going and we mean business. I can't wait. We are aiming to win the championship." Godolphin founder, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, puts the success down to team unity.
"Everybody in Godolphin works as a team," he said after the race. "These are horses, not machines and they are flesh and blood. "The team is the same throughout the year - I am very proud of my team." Although he is very much part of the team, Dettori also sees the new UAE season as an important step in his own career. "This season is going to be important for Godolphin and for me personally," Dettori said.
"I don't know if people understand how much it will mean to me as a Dubai jockey to ride at Meydan. "It's so exciting to be involved in this project and to ride on the beautiful new track. Everybody will be experiencing it for the first time because no-one knows what the track is like. There is a lot of talk about it in England and I know a lot of jockeys and trainers are looking forward to returning to Dubai."