x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Godolphin's calculated approach to picking right races

Dubai racing operation aims for top 10 since participating in prestigious handicap is important as well as expensive, says manager Simon Crisford.

Godolphin are confident Cavalryman will fare well in Melbourne having won a Listed contest over two miles at Sandown Park in July. Steve Parsons / PA Wire
Godolphin are confident Cavalryman will fare well in Melbourne having won a Listed contest over two miles at Sandown Park in July. Steve Parsons / PA Wire

It is hard to think of Godolphin as a cost-conscious organisation but faced with the prospect of having to travel halfway across the world to compete at the Melbourne Cup the balance sheets still need to add up for the international stable of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.

It is the annual conundrum for Simon Crisford, the racing manager to Godolphin, who has to take the calculated gamble of risking the extraordinary costs of transporting a horse to Australia against the bounteous rewards on offer at, for example, the Flemington Racecourse on Tuesday morning.

Unlike the Dubai World Cup meeting at Meydan Racecourse, which offers extra incentives to tempt trainers to race their horses in the UAE, Racing Victoria offers no such scheme to run in the race that is said to bring Australia to a grinding halt.

Crisford said the Melbourne Cup costs A$50,000 (Dh190,000) to get a horse on site. "If we finish 10th, our prize money is A$125,000," he said. "If we go or not, we have to be clear that we are a top-10 finisher otherwise we don't get on the plane."

It simply highlights the magnetic pull of the world's most famous handicap.

Godolphin suffered the setback this week with Lost In The Moment, who was sixth last year, missing the cut for a repeat bid for the A$3.6 million first prize, which places the Dubai-based organisation on the back foot already.

Among the eight foreign raiders is Godolphin's Cavalryman, the six year old who once was good enough to push Sea The Stars to within two and a quarter lengths in the 2009 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

More recently, Cavalryman has shown the capabilities to become a Melbourne Cup horse, and by winning a Listed contest over two miles at Sandown Park in England in July he booked his ticket on the plane.

Cavalryman will emerge from the sixth stall, and the trainer Saeed bin Suroor is looking forward to running the son of Halling, who has not had a prep race in Australia.

"Cavalryman has a very good draw," Bin Suroor said. "He can take any position in the race from stall six and it gives us options.

"He won over two miles earlier this season, so we know he stays the trip, and he also goes on any ground, which could be important as there is rain forecast.

"He goes into the Emirates Melbourne Cup in good condition and I am hopeful that he can run a big race."

The Dubai World Cup Carnival regular Luca Cumani knows what it is like to travel to Australia and not get a run in the Melbourne Cup. The Italian sent Bauer and Drunken Sailor in recent seasons, and Ibicenco joined them this season by not making the final 24.

Cumani, however, holds two sterling chances to perhaps get his hands on the Melbourne Cup trophy after several near misses.

The Italian has two horses in the two-mile feature, with Mount Athos seemingly his greatest chance of success. He failed narrowly with Bauer, who went down by a nose in 2008, and Purple Moon, who was also runner-up 12 months before that.

Charlie Henson, who looks after Cumani's horses all over the world, including in Dubai, was optimistic of Mount Athos's chances.

"Mount Athos has won three this year and has trained really well over here. His last piece of work on Wednesday with My Quest For Peace was good and I'm looking forward to Tuesday."

My Quest For Peace struggled to deal with the obvious brilliance of Dunaden, last year's winner, when the pair clashed in the Caulfield Cup in Melbourne last month.

Dunaden, who beat Ed Dunlop's Red Cadeaux by a pixel in a photo-finish 12 months ago, ran out a fluid winner of the Group 1 contest and as a result now carries top weight.

It was the six year old's first run since finishing sixth to Danedream in the King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot in July.

Dunaden will emerge from stall 16 and Sheikh Fahad Al Thani, the owner, believes that after such a fine performance his charge will strip much fitter. "I think when he won the Caulfield Cup he was at about 80 per cent and he's 100 per cent now, he is doing very well."

He added: "I think Red Cadeaux is a big danger, he is well in at the weights with us from last year, but this horse is a champion and I wouldn't swap him for anyone. He loves Australia."

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