The Dubai royal family celebrated three winners at Royal Ascot yesterday. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai, was at the course in Berkshire, England, to witness Frankie Dettori pilot Invisible Man to burst through inside the closing stages to win the 29-runner Royal Hunt Cup. It provided Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin operation with a first success at this year's meeting.
Blinkered for the first time, the four-year-old Elusive Quality colt fended off the late challenge of Riggins to prevail by half a length in a course record of 1min 37.16secs, lowering the previous one-mile best set by Godolphin's Ramonti in the Group One Queen Anne Stakes at the Royal meeting in June 2007. "It's very good to have a winner at Royal Ascot," said Sheikh Mohammed. "It's a beautiful day and Ascot always has great racing. There was always a chance that Invisible Man would win because we put the blinkers on and that just dropped him into the race."
Saeed bin Suroor, the trainer of Invisible Man, said: "What I like about this horse is that he is a big strong horse who handles his races well and we can look at bigger races now." Sheikh Mohammed's son, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, also had a horse in the winners' enclosure. Rainfall, the only filly in the field, battled on gamely to hold off Red Jazz in the Jersey Stakes in a course record time. "I didn't realise she had broken the track record," Mark Johnston, the trainer of the three-year-old, said. "Sheikh Mohammed was just saying it was a good race for fillies but I hadn't realised that. I'd looked at the race over the last five years and thought this was a tall order, but she's done nothing wrong since she came to us."
Godolphin's Shakespearean finished sixth in the same Group Three race and Dettori admitted afterwards the trip may "have come too soon" after the three-year-old's win at Epsom earlier this month. Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, Sheikh Mohammed's brother, meanwhile, saw Maqaasid put up a smart performance to take her 100 per cent record to two in the Queen Mary Stakes. The John Gosden-trained filly hit the front in the last half a furlong and the favourite just held on by a neck from long-time leader Meow.
On a fine day for Middle East owners, Khalid Abdullah, the Saudi Arabia prince, enjoyed a one-two finish in the Prince of Wales's Stakes. Byword gave jockey Maxime Guyon victory on his first ride in Britain while Henry Cecil's Twice Over was second in the Group One contest. In the same race, Goldolphin's Allybar and Cavalryman finished 11th and 12th respectively. Antara, the Godolphin four-year-old, was third in the Group Two Windsor Stakes while AspectofLove was seventh.
"Antara ran a big race and was beaten by better fillies on the day," bin Suroor said. "She is fine with a mile and we will give her a break now as she is a really nice filly for the future." In the Sandringham Stakes, Godolphin's Sweet Sonnet and Siyaadah finished sixth and eighth respectively. Today, Kite Wood and Darley Sun represent Godolphin in the Group One Ascot Gold Cup, one of the highlights of the British racing season.
Both horses step up in trip for the two-and-a-half-mile contest, with Dettori in the saddle on Kite Wood and William Buick getting the leg up on Darley Sun. * Agencies