Doncaster, England// Cap O’Rushes is an English fairy tale written in the 19th Century. A horse of the same name lines up Saturday on Town Moor in a bid to provide Charlie Appleby with a fairy-tale success in the St Leger.
It will be the first time the Godolphin trainer has had a chance to run a horse in a Classic race since he was appointed in the wake of Mahmoud Al Zarooni’s suspension for administering anabolic steroids to horses.
Appleby, 38, is lucky enough to run two in the final Classic of the English turf season. Alongside Cap O’Rushes, he will also saddle Libertarian, the runner-up in the English Derby, who has not seen a racecourse since flopping in the Irish equivalent behind his stablemate in June.
Although Libertarian proved at Epsom that he may be a superior thoroughbred, behind the closed doors of Moulton Paddocks at Newmarket it is no secret which horse is atop the pecking order.
Cap O’Rushes won the Group 2 Gordon Stakes at Glorious Goodwood in July from Excess Knowledge, who is considered by many to be one of the most likely winners today.
Cap O’Rushes then struggled to handle quick going at York in the Group 2 Great Voltigeur, a traditional prep race. Despite the setback at York, the Goodwood win handed Appleby his first victory at Group level as a rookie trainer.
Such early success has made it hard for Appleby to sever the emotional tie he has built with Cap O’Rushes. As the son of New Approach, Princess Haya’s 2008 English Derby winner, he is the first to be fed in the yard every morning.
Godolphin have a third dart to fire at the bullseye, as Saeed bin Suroor bids for a fifth victory in the race with Secret Number, who has failed to get his head in front in four runs in Europe since finishing third at Meydan Racecourse in the UAE Derby.
Only Simon Crisford, the Godolphin racing manager, can provide an objective view of the relative merits of the trio, and as far as he is concerned, Cap O’Rushes is the most likely to follow Encke’s upset 12 months ago on Doncaster’s rain-softened going.
“I would suggest you take a line through Cap O’Rushes and Excess Knowledge, who is one of the contenders to be favourite, while Cap O’ Rushes is an unconsidered outsider,” Crisford said. “But Cap O’ Rushes beat him at Goodwood.”
The blue silks of Godolphin have long been interwoven with the St Leger, the world’s oldest Classic horse race. The international stable of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and ruler of Dubai, has registered six winners in the race.
Since the contest, run over one mile and six furlongs, first took place in 1776, only the Duke Of Hamilton in the 18th century has had more winners as an owner, with seven.
“Encke was our sixth success in 20 years, so we have a great track record,” Crisford said. “It is a race we love, and being the oldest Classic, it is part of the fabric of British racing. It is very much on the radar each year.
“We have a lot of horses who fit the profile of the race and naturally get drawn towards it. It is one of the highlights of the whole year for us.”
TIMES UP ON COURSE FOR WORLD CUP
Times Up is set to head to Dubai for World Cup night after securing a second consecutive Doncaster Cup on Town Moor on Friday. The seven-year-old stayer outpointed long-standing rival High Jinx to take the 18-furlong marathon by a length and a quarter.
Only a handful of horses have managed back-to-back victories in the historic contest, first run in 1766, and Times Up promises to be a fascinating challenger should he take his chance in the Dubai Gold Cup at Meydan Racecourse in March.
For now, Times Up is likely headed to Ascot for the British Champions Series Long Distance Cup next month.
Trainer Ed Dunlop has run 18 horses in Dubai in the past five seasons, including Red Cadeaux’s storming run into second behind Animal Kingdom in the World Cup this year.
“We might have aimed at the Melbourne Cup, but the trainer did such a bad job early that he missed getting in,” Dunlop said in characteristically deadpan manner.
“I just broached the subject of maybe taking him to Dubai for the Gold Cup race there.”
Godolphin were on the mark with Ihtimal in the Group 2 May Hill Stakes after the Doncaster Cup. Saeed bin Suroor’s filly had two lengths on Charlie Appleby’s Majeyda at the line, having quickened through horses under Silvestre De Sousa.
It was a fourth consecutive victory in the mile contest for the international stable and Ihtimal is pencilled in at the end of the month for the Group 1 Fillies Mile at Newmarket, where White Moonstone, Lyric Of Light and Certify all followed up.
DONCASTER HOST HARWOOD INTERNATIONAL
The Group 1 Harwood International, Britain’s most valuable Purebred Arabian race, will be staged under the auspices of the Qatar Racing and Equestrian Club at Doncaster today. With a purse of £150,000 (Dh 873,550) it is just £8,000 shy of the total purse on offer at Newbury’s Dubai International Arabian race day this past month.