Hopes are high for Hibaayeb in Irish Oaks
Hibaayeb, the Royal Ascot heroine, is reported to be in the form of her life as she bids to give the Godolphin team their first taste of success in the Darley Irish Oaks today. The daughter of Singspiel was a hugely impressive winner of the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot and tests the water in Classic company this afternoon.
Saeed bin Suroor, her trainer, has been thrilled with his filly's subsequent progress and is confident of a bold show providing conditions at the Curragh do not become too testing. "She ran a huge race last time and came out of the race really well," said bin Suroor. "Hibaayeb is in great form and I am really happy with her. Her condition is very good and she looks better than ever at the moment. It's a very tough race but the filly is really happy and working very well.
"Good ground would be fine for her so I hope it is not too soft. I was very pleased with the way she won at Royal Ascot and I think that she has improved physically since then. She is taking on tougher opposition now but, as long as the ground is not too soft, then she can run a big race." Frankie Dettori rides Hibayeeb and he readied himself by helping Al Aasifh banish his Royal Ascot disappointment in the Rose Bowl Stakes at Newbury on Friday.
Bin Suroor's juvenile failed to build on an impressive Haydock success when finishing down the field in the Norfolk, but, returning to six furlongs, the colt strode out well and pegged back Cape To Rio to score by half a length. "We ran him back too quickly at Ascot where the ground was too fast and they went off quick," bin Suroor said. "The ground was right today and six furlongs suits him well. We will now look for a Group race for him as I hope he will be a nice horse for the future."
Dettori then denied Godolphin a double as he scored aboard Mark Johnston's favourite Emerging Artist in the Shadwell "Standing For Success" Handicap, relegating bin Suroor's Con Artist to second place. Dettori will go head to head in the Irish Oaks today with William Buick who rides the Mahmood al Zarooni-trained Miss Jean Brodie for Godolphin. The lightly-raced three-year-old daughter of Maria's Mon makes her third career start and takes a big jump in class following success in a Doncaster maiden last month when she ran on in the closing stages to win by a length and a half.
"Miss Jean Brodie is taking a big step up in class but she has shown ability on both her starts," al Zarooni said. "She has improved since her win at Doncaster and I don't think that she will have a problem with racing over a mile-and-a-half. It's a tough race but I would like too see how good she is and we will know more about her after Sunday's race." The Godolphin pair face 14 rivals, including Snow Fairy, Meeznah and Remember When, who fought out the finish to the Group One Investec Oaks at Epsom Downs, and Rosanara, the Group One Prix de Diane runner-up.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, the brother of Godolphin owner Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai, also fields a strong contender in Eldalil who chased Hibaayeb home at Royal Ascot. Angus Gold, the racing manager for Sheikh Hamdan, is hopeful of further improvement. "We hope she has improved since Ascot and she will need to as she is jumping up a grade," Gold said.
"They say the ground is going to be good or possibly a little bit easier and I just hope it doesn't go too soft." * Agencies