x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Godolphin's Encke spoils it for Camelot in the St Leger Stakes

Encke springs a surprise and ruins Camelot's Triple Crown bid, and Cityscape must give one of America's finest turf horses weight at the Woodbine Mile in Canada, writes Geoffrey Riddle

Mickael Barzalona took Encke, right, inside to upset the favoured Camelot, second from the left, in the St Leger Stakes at Doncaster, England.
Mickael Barzalona took Encke, right, inside to upset the favoured Camelot, second from the left, in the St Leger Stakes at Doncaster, England.

DONCASTER, ENGLAND //Godolphin are not often afforded the underdog tag but yesterday they hijacked Camelot's Triple Crown bid with almost imperious ease as Encke carried Mickael Barzalona to his maiden success in the St Leger Stakes.

Much like in March when nobody gave the Dubai-based operation a hope ahead of the Dubai World Cup, Encke was completely overlooked in favour of a misguided belief that Camelot would put to an end the 42-year hiatus since Nijinksy became the last British Triple Crown winner.

Before the Dubai World Cup, trainer Mahmoud Al Zarooni was badgered by the media about how it felt to be going into the world's most valuable race as an outsider.

It was a question the Emirati handler calmly batted away with the suggestion that he enjoyed being passed over.

Then, Barzalona led home Monterosso from stablemate Capponi.

It was the French rider again who handed Godolphin their sixth success in the final British Classic of the season.

Frankie Dettori was third on Michaelangelo.

"I have tried to win this race in the past two seasons with favourites but this time it was with an outsider," Al Zarooni said, in reference to saddling Rewilding and Blue Bunting in 2010 and 2011 respectively.

Whereas in Dubai Al Zarooni had been quietly confident, at his Newmarket base in England his nerve almost failed him in the build-up to the world's oldest Classic. Encke had warmed up for the St Leger by running in the Great Voltigeur at York last month, a traditional trial in which he could only finish third.

Al Zarooni had taken a dim view of that performance and had to be persuaded by Simon Crisford, Godolphin's racing manager, to run the son of Kingmambo.

"I didn't think he was good enough," Al Zarooni admitted.

"Simon thought 'run him'. He ran a good race at York, but we thought that is him. There's no more.

"Mickael always liked this horse. He is a tough horse and he kept going."

Barzalona returned to the winners' enclosure to be greeted by not only Al Zarooni and Crisford, but also Saeed bin Suroor, who had trained Godolphin's five previous winners.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, could not make it to the race, but is likely to discuss future plans with his team in the near future.

"Mickael rode a beautiful race," said Crisford. "When he kicked at the [200-metre] pole he put the race to bed, really. That stamps very well for next season; he will stay in training. Sheikh Mohammed gave us the green light and would want to sit down with Mahmoud and plan for next summer.

"Going into the race we didn't fancy beating Camelot but I thought we'd get a piece of the pie."

For Aidan O'Brien, trainer of Camelot, there was only disappointment.

O'Brien had stood on the cusp of greatness with the opportunity to become the first trainer in British Turf history to win all five Classics in the same season and he was man enough to take the blame for Camelot's loss.

"We expected him to win and if I thought they were going to go that steady I would have had a pacemaker in, or two pacemakers. But that's my fault," he said.

"He ran a great race but just got beat. It's disappointing for everybody but that's the way it is. That's racing."



Cityscape must give one of America’s finest turf horses weight in the Grade 1 Woodbine Mile at Woodbine Racecourse in Canada overnight.

Roger Charlton’s six year old, who won the Dubai Duty Free at Meydan Racecourse in March, travelled over to Canada via Amsterdam this past week with Dance And Dance, owned by Sheikh Mohammed, and Worthadd.

The European team will face Wise Dan, a dual Group winner on Turf, who enjoys a 3lb weight concession from Cityscape as he is without a win at the highest level this season.

Much like when Cityscape unsuccessfully ran in the BMW Champions Mile at Hong Kong back in May, Charlton and jockey James Doyle will arrive just hours before the race and return to England the same evening.

“I think the track will suit him, Charlton said yesterday.

“It is similar to Meydan with the bend, which he likes.---- “He travelled well, has settled into his new surroundings and continues to be in good form.”

Regular Dubai runner Wigmore Hall also runs on the same card, where he defends his title in the Group 1 Northern Dancer Turf Stakes.

The five year old has not won since scoring in the 12-furlong event.

Wigmore Hall has run in eight contests including behind Cityscape in Dubai.

Across the Atlantic in France, Godolphin’s Farhh takes centre stage in the Group 1 Prix Moulin on Longchamp’s informative Arc trials day card.

Farhh faces only Moonlight Cloud, Caspar Netscher and Sarkiyla in the mile contest.

His is seeking his maiden success at the highest level.

TM Fred Texas, the Dubai Kahayla Classic victor, also runs at Longchamp, taking part in the Group 2 Prix Dragon.


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