x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Rewilding relying on Ajtebi to force the issue

Mahmood al Zarooni will act as Godolphin's standard bearer on the second day of Royal Ascot when he saddles Splash Point, Anna Salai, Debussy and Rewilding.

Rewilding, seen here after winning the Dubai Sheema Classic, goes in the Prince of Wales Stakes.
Rewilding, seen here after winning the Dubai Sheema Classic, goes in the Prince of Wales Stakes.

ASCOT, England // Mahmood al Zarooni will act as Godolphin's standard bearer on the second day of Royal Ascot when he saddles Splash Point, Anna Salai, Debussy and Rewilding in the first three races.

Rewilding's presence in the Group 1 Prince of Wales's Stakes has barely sent a ripple through the racing landscape here in the past week as Aidan O'Brien's exciting Australian import, So You Think, has grabbed all of the headlines.

So You Think won two Cox Plates, Australia's premier weight-for-age contest, before trying valiantly in November to drag a huge weight around Flemington Racecourse in the Melbourne Cup. That he finished third highlights his athleticism over varying distances and his ability to slip into a rhythm.

His two victories in Ireland ahead of today's challenge have been imperious, and given that al Zarooni has compared Rewilding to a filly in the past, this could be a brutal education for the tender Dubai Sheema Classic winner.

Rewilding's strength lies in his ability to stay 2,400m, so today's test over 400m shorter at a fast pace should suit him if Ahmed Ajtebi, the Emirati jockey, performs his role as pacemaker aboard Debussy and forces the issue.

Godolphin believe that will be the key to success, but Danny O'Brien, the Australian trainer who ran Star Witness to second place yesterday in the King's Stand Stakes, thinks that the tactic will suit So You Think down to the ground.

"Our races in Australia often do not have a pacemaker and are run at a stop-start pace," O'Brien said. "He's the sort of horse that will really benefit from the training at Ballydoyle in that he will get a lead horse. He'll be a very exciting horse by the end of the season."

Godolphin have won the Prince Of Wales's Stakes three times, the first of which was Dubai Millennium's majestic stroll down Ascot's straight 11 years ago having picked up the Dubai World Cup three months previously. Fantastic Light's victory a year later, and Grandera's 12 months after that illustrates that the Dubai-based operation understand keenly what it takes to win this contest.

So does O'Brien, however, having won the 2008 race with Duke Of Marmelade.

If Rewilding, the Godolphin colt, can pull it off, he will go to his midsummer target, the King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, as one of the best in Europe.

English 2000 Guineas winners rarely contest the Jersey Stakes, but it will be a test of the UAE 2000 Guineas form when Splash Point runs in the opening race on today's card.

Splash Point progressed well in his two outings at the Dubai Carnival last season. He was put in his place by Zanzamar in a Guineas trial on his seasonal debut, in January, before he slammed his conqueror in the real thing a month later.

It was his disappointing run in the UAE Derby, 300m further than the Guineas, which was curious but after an 81-day layoff he is now ready to take his chance.

Riddle's predictions

Jersey Stakes, 1,400m, 5.30pm
Codemaster, owned by Qatar Bloodstock, broke the track record at Newmarket on his only start this season. There was a significant tailwind that day, but it was still an excellent performance. Last year’s Coventry Stakes winner Strong Suit has had a wind operation since flopping behind Frankel earlier this season, but has a Group 2 penalty, which may make it easier for the likes of Fury and Western Aristocrat. Prediction: 1 Codemaster, 2 Fury, 3 Strong Suit

Windsor Forest Stakes: 1,600m, 6.05pm
Both Luca Cumani and Keiren Fallon, pictured top, believe Seta to be their best chance of the meeting, so all eyes will be on the four year old after she beat Godolphin’s Anna Salai last time at Goodwood. David Simcock’s I’m A Dreamer looks an interesting player while Sajjhaa, out of Saeed bin Suroor’s stable, is well fancied. Prediction: 1 I’m A Dreamer, 2 Seta, 3 Sajjhaa

Prince Of Wales’s Stakes: 2,000m, 6.45pm
This features a small, but very select field. Twice Over was dropped back to 1,600m last time behind Canford Cliffs, but the experiment did not work. Back at his favoured distance the dual Dubai World Cup runner should be more competitive. On official ratings he does not have much to find with So You Think, but the Australian import is still improving and has never really been pushed to the limit. Rewilding can vie for the podium placings ahead of a tilt at the King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes back here next month over 400m further. Prediction: 1 So You Think, 2 Rewilding, 3 Twice Over

Royal Hunt Cup: 1,600m, 7.25pm
Thirty runners charging down a straight 1,600m is a sight to behold and a difficult puzzle to fathom. Eton Forever looks to have a cracking chance down the centre of the track on account of his most recent victory over subsequent winner Dance And Dance, who is worth watching from stall 30. On the stand’s side Michael Bell’s Mont Agel and William Haggas’s Sooraah are of interest, while Point North can accompany Eton Forever down the middle. Prediction: 1 Eton Forever, 2 Mont Agel, 3 Point North, 4 Julienas

Queen Mary Stakes 1,000m, 8pm
A hot Group 2 contest with half the field unbeaten. Shumoos has been on everyone’s lips since she beat Fredrick Engels by four-and-a-half lengths on her debut. However, with that colt winning the Windsor Castle Stakes yesterday, she will take a lot of beating. On the ratings, Dozy, trained by Kevin Ryan, looks to have a bit in hand but with Wesley Ward, the American trainer, entering Gypsy Robin, anything could happen. Prediction: 1 Shumoos, 2 Gypsy Robin, 3 Dozy

Sandringham Handicap, 1,600m, 8.35pm
Dubai Queen, a half-sister to the great Dubawi, looks to have this Listed race within her grasp. She won her maiden in decent style but her inexperience was her undoing when second at Newmarket last time out. With so few miles on the clock, she is open to any improvement and therefore receives little weight; a beguiling combination. The Queen’s Humdrum looks a significant danger as does Rhythm Of Night. Prediction: 1 Dubai Queen, 2 Humdrum, 3 Rhythm Of Night