x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Godolphin well ahead in the race before the Dubai World Cup

Saeed bin Suroor and Mahmoud Al Zarooni in a fight to take the honours in the Carnival trainers' championship.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, right, has had many successes at Meydan Racecourse, including Gamilati, ridden by Frankie Dettori in February.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, right, has had many successes at Meydan Racecourse, including Gamilati, ridden by Frankie Dettori in February.

DUBAI // There may be one meeting still to go, but Godolphin has already become the leading owner at the Dubai World Cup Carnival for the fifth year in succession.

The Dubai racing operation, founded by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has 25 wins after yesterday's action at Meydan, the second-highest tally Godolphin has ever achieved in Dubai.

Simon Crisford, Godolphin's racing manager, had said before the start of the season in December that it would be more difficult to secure the owners' title this year.

Yet in the end, with nine races to go on the all-important March 31 Dubai World Cup card, Godolphin is 15 wins ahead of current second-placed owner, Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed with nine.

Godolphin's two trainers, the Al Quoz-based Saeed bin Suroor and Mahmoud Al Zarooni from his Al Marmoom yard in the desert, are sitting at the top end of the Carnival trainers' championship with Bin Suroor leading on 17. Al Zarooni, who is on 14, was pushed into third place last night after Ali Rashid Al Raihe's five wins at Meydan Racecourse boosted him into second place with 15.

In third place in the owners' championship with eight victories is Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa, whose horses are trained by South African supremo, Mike de Kock.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed has seven Carnival victories in fourth place but he leads the overall season stats with an enormous 38 wins gleaned during the domestic and international season combined.

And if the standings at the top stay as they are after World Cup Day, Bin Suroor will join Godolphin in claiming a fifth Dubai crown.

"It would be a great result," said bin Suroor yesterday. "For the Godolphin team to be the most successful owner for the fifth time and to also have the best trainer as well is a very good result indeed." After last night's racing, Godolphin's two trainers now face competition from Al Raihe, and Al Zarooni could still snatch victory before the end of the season.

Bin Suroor, who has faced competition from within the Godolphin ranks since the appointment of Al Zarooni at the end of the 2010 Carnival, said that there may only be a few victories separating the two leading trainers at the end of the season.

"Last year I finished very close to Mike de Kock and it is often very tight at the top," he said. "But we are a team and Godolphin has a lot of strength in depth."

Bin Suroor, a four-time British champion trainer, has been conditioning winners all over the world for Godolphin since 1995. His efforts have helped Godolphin claim the British top owner slot seven times and, closer to home, he has been responsible for five Dubai World Cup winners, including the late, great Dubai Millennium in 2000.

The Dubai-born former policeman plans to saddle two in the World Cup this season in Prince Bishop and Mendip and a further 10 across the rest of the World Cup card, if all goes to plan.

"It's always hard to win races when the best trainers and best horses in the world come here to compete but hopefully we will have a big day," said Bin Suroor. "After this evening we will be focusing on the biggest meeting in the world, Dubai World Cup night."

Meanwhile Godolphin's premier jockey, Frankie Dettori, is dominating the jockey's table with 16 Carnival victories in a landmark year that saw him ride his 100th Carnival winner.

Just below him are new Godolphin signings, the Brazilian rider, Sylvestre de Sousa, on 11 and French jockey, Mickael Barzalona, who is level-pegging with De Kock's rider, Christophe Soumillon, on eight.

Bin Suroor said that the signing of the new jockeys bore witness to Godolphin's commitment to racing around the world.

"This year we also have two very good young jockeys in Mickael and Sylvestre because we have more horses running for us in Europe. After the season ends here we will be focusing on Europe and redirecting all our energies to our performance over there."

On World Cup day the plan is for Al Zarooni to saddle 10 runners including World Cup hopes Capponi and Monterosso while Godolphin's Australian handler, Peter Snowden, will be responsible for Derby runner, Helmet, and Golden Shaheen sprinter, Sepoy.