x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Khalifa Dasmal has 'the best sprinter in Europe'

Dream Ahead cost the Dubai-based Dasmal Dh212,000, so far he has won more than Dh3 million in prize money.

Hayley Turner and Dream Ahead won the Darley July Cup at Newmarket.
Hayley Turner and Dream Ahead won the Darley July Cup at Newmarket.

LONDON // After Shaamit's success in the 1996 Epsom Derby, Khalifa Dasmal had to wait 14 years before his pink and green colours were carried to victory in another Group 1 contest. Last year Dream Ahead won the Prix Morny at Deauville.

This afternoon the three-year-old colt stands on the cusp of a fourth win at the highest level when he returns to the glamorous French seaside racecourse for the Prix Maurice de Gheest.

Unlike Shaamit, which Dasmal bred himself, Dream Ahead was a product of the Darley operation but was discarded as a yearling for US$11,000 (Dh40,400), having been born in America. Dasmal was made aware of Dream Ahead's precocious ability when his bloodstock agent called him up and told him to watch a recent breeze on the internet.

A discussion ensued and Dasmal paid the £36,000 (Dh216,000) required to purchase the son of Diktat - cheaper than a decent car. Yet whereas a vehicle depreciates in value almost immediately, Dream Ahead has generated £528,688 in prize money during his six-race career.

With breeding considerations factored in, it was a remarkably good deal, but Dasmal did not build up his Dubai-based Bin Dasmal Group without a little business acumen.

Unlike many owners he spreads his horses between numerous trainers such as Robert Cowell, who handles the King's Stand Stakes winner, Prohibit, in which Dasmal has a third share, David Elsworth and Marco Botti. Last year he also had horses with Alan McCabe and William Haggas, the trainer of Shaamit.

"I think Marco Botti is a very good trainer, but I have been with the others for quite a long time," said Dasmal.

"I like to spread my horses around. If one stable has a virus, or is out of form then you don't want to lose your whole string, do you?"

David Simcock has trained four runners for Dasmal in Britain this season including recent the Ascot winner Noble Citizen.

Dream Ahead is clearly the standard-bearer of his Newmarket operation and his latest victory came on his own doorstep in the July Cup, a race that has produced Europe's subsequent champion sprinter 25 times in the past 34 years. In Dasmal's eyes, however, Dream Ahead has already assumed that mantle. "He is one of the best sprinters in Europe now. I think he has proved that," he said. "Sure, horses like Noble Citizen pay for themselves, but I can't describe to you the feeling when Dream Ahead won at Newmarket. He was boxed in and didn't look as if he could win. When he took off under Hayley Turner it was unbelievable to win like that."

Today's assignment is not an easy one. Society Rock, who won the Group 1 Golden Jubilee at Ascot, makes the line-up. And, Zoffany, who chased home Frankel in the St James's Palace Stakes, also.

The home defence is led by Marchand D'Or, the champion European sprinter of 2008. With nine other runners, it is quite a task, but champions are not crowned the easy way.

The 1,300m contest is part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge Series, whereby the winner is automatically afforded entry to America's international meeting in November. It is a beguiling opportunity, but one which at the moment does not seem to feature in Dasmal's plans. One certainty is that the colt will never feature at Meydan racecourse.

"There is no race for him in Dubai," he said. "He won't like the ground out there. He likes lush green grass and he won't like Tapeta either. I will buy three or four horses later this year especially to race in Dubai this season."

With proven purchasing skill the former Emirates Equestrian Federation administrator can dream ahead to Carnival success with confidence, it just may take a little time coming.

sports@thenational.ae


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