x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Fire Blaze stokes Royal Ascot plans for Godolphin and Al Zarooni with Newmarket win

The grey filly was pushed out all the way by Mickael Barzalona to hold off Shiekh Juma Dalmook Al Maktoum's Blhadawa by a neck.

Fire Blaze, ridden by Mickael Barzalona, on their way to winning the NGK Spark Plugs race at Newmarket. PA
Fire Blaze, ridden by Mickael Barzalona, on their way to winning the NGK Spark Plugs race at Newmarket. PA

NEW MARKET // Fire Blaze kept up Mahmoud Al Zarooni's momentum in Britain by becoming the trainer's second winner from as many runners along the Rowley Mile yesterday.

The grey filly was pushed out all the way by Mickael Barzalona to hold off Shiekh Juma Dalmook Al Maktoum's Blhadawa by a neck.

Fire Blaze added to Al Zarooni's success after the Godolphin handler saddled Improvisation at the course on Wednesday.

"Mahmoud always felt she was a straightforward and professional filly and we will be looking for a stepping stone to Royal Ascot with her," Simon Crisford, Godolphin's racing manager, said. The Queen Mary Stakes over five furlongs or the Albany Stakes, over a furlong further, are the likely targets for the June meeting.

Al Zarooni almost struck again 35 minutes later in the Wood Ditton Stakes over a mile, but Barzalona could not reel in Ajraam, ridden by Ryan Moore.

Ajraam was one of five runners for Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, who was on hand to bask in his success, although Maraweh, who was running for his new operation based in Lambourn for John Hills, was 10th of the 12 runners.

Windhoek, owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, was a gutsy winner of the Tattersalls Millions Trophy under Joe Fanning and is likely to head for the Dante Stakes at York next month, which is a traditional prep race for the English Derby at Epsom.

"Neither Sheikh Mohammed nor Sheikh Hamdan [bin Mohammed] are here, but the race springs to mind," Mark Johnston, the trainer, said. "Pedigree-wise he is a Derby horse."

Qatari owners secured the Group 3 Craven Stakes as Richard Hannon sent out Toronado to beat stablemate Havana Gold in the mile contest.

sports@thenational.ae