x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Good draw for Holberg in Melbourne Cup

Godolphin were in luck as Holberg made the cut for the Emirates Melbourne Cup to double the team's challenge.

Godolphin were in luck as Holberg made the cut for the Emirates Melbourne Cup to double the team's challenge.

Frankie Dettori had been poised to ride Campanologist at Flemington on Tuesday if the lighter-weighted Holberg failed to scrape into the field, but a spate of withdrawals yesterday afternoon meant he made it with ease.

Campanologist, now the confirmed mount of Kerrin McEvoy, was handed an outside draw in 19 of the 24-strong line-up. Holberg will break from a more favourable stall 10.

"Holberg's draw is the best for me," Saeed bin Suroor, Godolphin's trainer, said.

"He has good tactical speed and Frankie wanted to ride him because of the weight." There had been a concern about one of Holberg's hooves when the contenders were assessed by vets on Friday but bin Suroor added: "He's fine today and he'll be 100 per cent no problem on Tuesday.

"Campanologist has a chance too, though. I like both of them. He's in great form, he looks in very good condition."

Eastern Aria, the third potential Godolphin challenger, who is trained by Mark Johnston and owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, did not make the cut.

Today, French Navy bids to preserve his unbeaten status and give Godolphin victory in the Group 1 Criterium International over a mile at Saint-Cloud, France.

Andre Fabre's charge completed a hat-trick of wins with a comfortable triumph over Havane Smoker in the Group 3 Prix des Chenes at Longchamp on September 18.

The two-year-old Shamardal colt has competed exclusively at a mile so far and was also victorious on his first two starts at Deauville in August.

Maxime Guyon has ridden the Darley homebred to his three successes and the partnership continues for this Group 1 test.

French Navy faces nine opponents including Maiguri, the Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere runner-up, Roderic O'Connor, who finished second in the Group 1 Darley Dewhurst Stakes; Havane Smoker; unbeaten course and distance winner Ziyarid and Group 3 victor Abjer.

Also in action at Saint-Cloud today are Colonial and Royal Revival who will attempt to make the leap from Listed winners to Group 3 victors when they contest the Prix Perth.

The Fabre-trained pair head to the mile contest in good form. Colonial scored over a mile at Craon in the Listed Prix Fourrages Thierry Dutertre last month, while Royal Revival relished the very soft going to win the nine-furlong Listed Prix le Fabuleux at Maisons-Laffitte earlier this month. Both colts have previously competed in Pattern race company without yet clinching victory.

The runners today will be hoping to build on the success that the racing operation enjoyed with a Listed race double at Newmarket yesterday.

Kingsfort pulled off a surprise when the third-string beat his more fancied stablemates Secrecy and Alexandros to win the Listed bet365 Ben Marshall Stakes.

Godolphin gained a quickfire Listed race double when Blue Bunting benefited from a power-packed Ahmed Ajtebi ride to land the bet365.com EBF Montrose Fillies' Stakes.

"It was very nice to get [Kingsfort]back on a winning track," said Diana Cooper, on behalf of Godolphin's bin Suroor. "He was nice and fresh and battled on well and he will be a very useful horse at the Dubai Carnival."

Blue Bunting, the Mahmood al Zarooni-trained filly, showed her toughness despite being headed by Ryan Moore on Elas Diamond but battling back in the last 100 yards to beat that rival by a length.

"She'll be off to Dubai for the winter and aimed at the UAE 1,000 Guineas and Oaks and those sorts of races," Cooper said. "She has franked her form this year and shown here how well she has grown into herself."

* Agencies