x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Horse racing: Soft Falling Rain falls for the first time

Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid's colt, who had seven wins in seven starts, had not raced since winning the Godolphin Mile at Meydan Racecourse on World Cup night, writes Geoffrey Riddle.

Paul Hanagan rides Soft Falling Rain at Newbury on Saturday. Alan Crowhurst / Getty Images
Paul Hanagan rides Soft Falling Rain at Newbury on Saturday. Alan Crowhurst / Getty Images

Newbury, ENGLAND // Soft Falling Rain suffered the first defeat of his career when second to Princess Haya of Jordan's Gregorian in the Group 2 Hungerford Stakes on Saturday.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid's colt, who had seven wins in seven starts, had not raced since winning the Godolphin Mile at Meydan Racecourse on World Cup night, in March, and the long break showed as he beaten by a length and a half.

Mike de Kock had suggested in Dubai that Soft Falling Rain might be a candidate for sprinting honours in Europe but after soft-tissue problems in his back it appears that he will be stepped up in distance for the rest of the season.

"He's been beaten by a Group 1 horse," the eight-time South African champion trainer said. "He's been off the track for 140 days so I have to be chuffed with him.

"Looking at that, he wants a mile and I'll have to discuss plans with the owner."

De Kock stated before the race that the seven furlongs at Newbury was just a building block for later in the season and the former champion juvenile of South Africa is entered in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on Champions Day at Ascot in October.

There, he could run into Godolphin's Dawn Approach and Sheikh Joaan bin Hamad's Toronado, both of whom are also entered in the mile Group 1 race.

sports@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE