x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Danedream's wins are for real

Filly prevails in photo finish but a second big race win has owners feeling vindicated.

Andrasch Starke had every reason to be happy after riding Danedream to victory.
Andrasch Starke had every reason to be happy after riding Danedream to victory.

ASCOT, ENGLAND // Danedream proved conclusively that her victory in last season's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe was no hiccup in the grand order of European racing with a gutsy success in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes yesterday.

Where at Longchamp in October she routed 15 rivals in a record time with a blistering turn of foot, she showed all her battling qualities to deny in the final 100 metres Nathaniel, last year's winner, by a nose. St Nicholas Abbey, Aidan O'Brien's Dubai Sheema Classic runner-up, was third.

The feeling of vindication from the German camp was easy to see as Andrasch Starke, the jockey, Peter Schiergen, the trainer, and part-owner Heiko Volz cheered and hugged in the winners' enclosure.

"Some people thought that maybe her win in the Arc was a fluke but the trainer, jockey and everyone in Germany believed in her," Volz, who bought Danedream for just €9,000 in 2010, said.

"We were told constantly at home that we had a good chance in this race. This is something amazing for a German horse to win these two big races. German racing will be very proud today."

Dandream will now have a break before appearing in the Grosser Preis Von Baden in September, the Group 1 race that she won last year by six lengths as a stepping stone to her triumph in Paris.

Her victory here also allows her automatic entry to the Japan Cup, in which she was a lacklustre sixth in November, and with prominent owner and breeder Teruya Yoshida in possession of a half share, it is likely to be her final race.

"For me she was always a champion," Volz added defiantly. "She won two Group Ones by five lengths or more at home - we are in Germany, not Czechoslovakia somewhere. What is there left to prove?"

Danedream faced six other Group 1 winners, who between them had accumulated over Dh80 million in prize money.

Dunaden, owned by Sheikh Fahad Al Thani, was a little fresh in the early stages of the race under Craig Williams but after the first quarter it was Robin Hood, St Nicholas Abbey's stablemate, that set the pace under Seamie Heffernan.

Williams led the field into the straight after Robin Hood had done the hard work, but two furlongs from home he was headed by William Buick on Nathaniel. Starke was tracking Nathaniel in fourth and ranged up on the inside a furlong from home to deliver his challenge. As the winning post closed in, Danedream drew level and as the two horses crossed the line only the camera could split them.

"In the last furlong I felt I could beat Nathaniel," Starke revealed. "He was the horse to beat and we kept on getting closer and closer in the final furlong. I was happy with second place."

John Gosden was delighted with Nathaniel's Herculean effort just two weeks after winning the Group 1 Eclipse Stakes and was another who was unsure of the result as the field flashed by.

"I didn't know which horse had won and I was on the line," Nathaniel's trainer said. "Our horse has run his race quite brilliantly - I'm beyond thrilled.

"The winner has come back to her best. Anyone who was lucky enough to see her win the Arc last year, breaking the track record and destroying the colts, would know she is marvellous."


twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE & Geoffrey Riddle @Louchepunter