x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Glorious Goodwood prospects bleak for UAE owners

Godolphin has the best chance when they saddle Farhh to go against Frankel in Sussex Stakes.

Colour Vision prevailed over Opinion Poll, left, in the Gold Cup race in June at Royal Ascot.
Colour Vision prevailed over Opinion Poll, left, in the Gold Cup race in June at Royal Ascot.

GOODWOOD, England // These are lean times for UAE-based owners this European turf season and Glorious Goodwood, which starts today, hardly provides the easiest arena in which to claw back any respite from this lack of success.

Only Godolphin have registered a victory at the highest level in Europe this season when Colour Vision pipped stablemate Opinion Poll at the finishing post in the Group 1 Gold Cup at Royal Ascot in June.

Other than that, both the British-based strings of Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed have had a torrid time at the elite end, and there could be slim pickings over the next five days.

Although Mark Johnston, who has had infections and coughing race through his yard this season, recorded a five-timer in Britain and France on Saturday for the Crown Prince of Dubai, the trainer is severely lacking in any of the 13 Group races this week.

Meanwhile, Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid is yet to record a European Group 1 victory since Dermot Weld saddled Bethrah to win the Irish 1000 Guineas two seasons ago, and lower down the scale it is the same story.

The likes of Jaber Abdullah and Saeed Manana, and other owners under the Rabbah Bloodstock umbrella, are struggling to have an impact at the top table also.

By this time last season Godolphin had scooped four Group 1 races across Europe with Blue Bunting's dual Classic victories, Wavering and Rewilding.

Fame And Glory, part-owned by Fitri Hay, had won the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot, and Khalifa bin Dasmal's Dream Ahead edged out Bated Breath in the July Cup.

Bin Dasmal, the UAE businessman, also owned a share in Prohibit, who took the King's Stand Stakes at the Royal Meeting.

Perhaps it has been the British weather, which has resulted in most races run on rain-softened ground, but the suspicion has to be that the firepower simply is not there. There are two Group 1 races along the idiosyncratic camber of Goodwood's track this week and the UAE-owned horses face a tall order in both of them.

Godolphin give it their best shot tomorrow, when the Dubai-based operation take aim at Frankel with Farhh in the Sussex Stakes. Only four were declared yesterday for the mile race with Frankel's pacemaker, Bullet Train, and Gabrial making up the numbers.

In the Nassau Stakes on Saturday, Nahrain bids to get her season back on track in the 10 furlong feature.

Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid's filly proved to be of the highest class when taking the Group 1 Prix l'Opera last season, and almost augmented that win in the Breeders' Cup Filly And Mare Turf, in which she was second to Perfect Shirl. She disappointed in the Windsor Forest at Royal Ascot when saddled with a Group 1 penalty and appeared to dislike the soft ground.

With Roger Varian's filly will be fresher than most, and with a liking for better going she could well be the best hope for the UAE this week along the Sussex Downs.


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