x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Godolphin has challenges on three fronts for the weekend

Godolphin's operation goes global with runners in the Kentucky Derby in the United States, the BMW Champions Mile at Hong Kong and the 1000 Guineas in Newmarket in England.

African Story will carry Godolphin's colours at Hong Kong in the BMW Championship Mile, part of a big weekend the Dubai-based horse racing operation faces along with Alpha going in the Kentucky Derby, and Lyric of Light and Discourse running the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket.
African Story will carry Godolphin's colours at Hong Kong in the BMW Championship Mile, part of a big weekend the Dubai-based horse racing operation faces along with Alpha going in the Kentucky Derby, and Lyric of Light and Discourse running the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket.

 

Newmarket // When the Godolphin concept was first put into practice in the mid-'90s the idea was that Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, would race horses at the highest level around the world.

Saturday and Sunday, it would appear that the vision has crystallised completely.

Despite not having a runner in Saturday's English 2000 Guineas, the Dubai-based operation has runners in three of the toughest Group 1 races around the world.

Of course, Godolphin have had weekends like this before, but rarely have they had four runners boasting such outstanding claims spread across the globe.

Alpha starts as a lively outsider in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in the United States Saturday night.

On Sunday, African Story, the Godolphin Mile victor, advertises the strength of this season's Dubai World Cup night form by clashing with Cityscape, the Dubai Duty Free winner, in the BMW Champions Mile at Sha Tin in Hong Kong.

It is in England, however, where perhaps Godolphin secretly harbour their greatest chance of success.

Sheikh Mohammed is due to be at Sunday's 1000 Guineas in which the Royal Blue silks will be carried by Lyric Of Light and Discourse in the absence of Gamilati, the UAE 1000 Guineas and Oaks winner from the same stable.

"This is the sort of weekend for which Godolphin was created," said Simon Crisford, Godolphin's racing manager. "All three races are extraordinarily tough but it's incredibly exciting and we're there with a fighting chance.

"I suppose the 1000 Guineas would be our best chance of success as we've got two bites of the cherry with two very good fillies, but the other two horses go into their races as we'd want them."

While Gamilati was in Dubai racking up Classic victories, Lyric Of Light and Discourse were left behind in Newmarket to endure the cold. It snowed during the winter here, but whereas Gamilati is now on the sidelines due to injury Lyric Of Light and Discourse have emerged stronger for it and line-up Saturday as two of the nine fillies in the 18-runner field to have not had a prep run.

"They've wintered well; they have progressed from two to three and are in good condition," Crisford said.

"Physically, they are in good order. Until we get them on the racetrack we won't know. They will need to have improved but there is no reason to believe they haven't."

On Wednesday, Colour Vision won the Group 3 Sagaro Stakes at Kempton Park.

It handed Godolphin another option to Opinion Poll for the Ascot Gold Cup in June, but more than that it signalled for the second year running the operation has hit the ground running. And look what happened last year.

 

IF NEWMARKET TURF DRIES THEN LIGHTENING PEARL WILL MAKE A RUN

A decision about the participation of Sheikh Fahad Al Thani's Lightening Pearl in Sunday's 1,000 Guineas will be taken Saturday.

Friday, 18 fillies stood their ground at the final declaration stage for Sunday's Classic on the Rowley Mile, and the Sheikh's filly was left in only on the proviso that the rain-softened turf would dry up in time.

Heavy rain has fallen in the area for the past month, but Newmarket has always drained well and David Redvers, the sheikh's racing manager, was optimistic.

"I'd imagine it will be Saturday before we make a decision on whether we run or not," Redvers said. "She won't run if the ground is any worse than good to soft as we don't want her to have a hard race on soft ground on her very first run of the year.

"She looks absolutely magnificent and I really can’t wait to see her get on the racecourse again.

"Newmarket is a track that drains well, so let’s hope for a dry day and that should give us a fighting chance of running on Sunday.”

The filly won three times from five starts as a juvenile for Ger Lyons, who trains her in Ireland, and she rounded off an excellent campaign by claiming Group 1 glory in the six-furlong Cheveley Park Stakes at Newmarket.

Maybe, generally regarded as the favourite, was also entered for trainer Aidan O'Brien, who also runs Homecoming Queen.

The Godolphin pair of Lyric Of Light and Discourse would also run.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid's Mashoora was declared.

 

sports@thenational.ae

 

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