Dettori's sights on Gold Cup with Colour Vision
ASCOT, ENGLAND // It has been a quiet time for Godolphin since they arrived in Britain from Dubai but they hope to turn up the volume at the Royal Meeting with Opinion Poll and Colour Vision in the Gold Cup today.
The personal stable of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice-President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has been hamstrung by injury to its best horses this European season. The trio of jockeys they retain are struggling for form and the two trainers that drive the Dubai-based operation are starved of top-level success.
Since Godolphin won the Dubai World Cup in March Saeed bin Suroor and Mahmoud Al Zarooni have saddled more winners during April and May in Britain than in any of the previous five campaigns.
Statistics are frequently used to mask the truth, however, and for an organisation that was set up as a symbol of racing success, Godolphin have not registered a victory at Group 1 or Group 2 level anywhere in Europe this year.
Frankie Dettori has not even had a ride at the highest level in the Royal Blue colours since finishing last on Lyric Of Light in the 1000 Guineas in the first week of May.
It makes today's ride aboard Bin Suroor's Colour Vision of such critical importance for both jockey and trainer.
"Godolphin is not going down," bin Suroor said. "Of course it is quiet sometimes - it depends on what kind of horses you have. We started with around 20 horses [in 1994] but now we have 400 horses split between Mahmoud and me. Add in yearlings and those with problems and there are a few more.
"Sometimes you are just lucky to have one good horse and if you have a good horse it makes the others look very good."
Bin Suroor has trained all four of Godolphin's Gold Cup winners and Colour Vision looked to possess the constitution and the ability to win the punishing two-and-a-half-mile contest when winning at Kempton last month under Dettori.
Colour Vision was precocious enough in October to finish third behind his stablemate and last year's winner Fame And Glory in the Long Distance Cup over today's course as a three year old.
Colour Vision has clearly strengthened during his time with Godolphin, having formerly been trained by Mark Johnston, and could well have improved enough to account today for Fame And Glory, trained by Aidan O'Brien and owned by the Dubai-based Fitri Hay.
It would be a timely victory, but bin Suroor denies any pressure from above.
"Sheikh Mohammed is a great man and a great boss," the trainer said. "At the same time it doesn't matter what the result is, he smiles and moves on.
"He always says just carry on as normal and things will change." It was reported last week that Dettori would ride Opinion Poll, but when the final declarations came out on Tuesday Mickael Barzalona was inked beside the Dubai Gold Cup winner.
Barzalona was nonplussed about the decision and amid all of the hype surrounding the arrival of Queen Elizabeth II and Frankel's stunning performance in the Queen Anne Stakes, the 19-year-old Frenchman cut a forlorn and lonely figure out of the limelight in the weighing room.
"It was a last minute decision," he said. "It came from the boss. I just ride the horses."
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