When the Dubai royal family jousts on the racetrack this afternoon, it will be yet another chapter in the annals of racing that is to be savoured.
Sheikhs' horses set to square off at Goodwood
GOODWOOD, ENGLAND // History, mythology and literature is littered with stories of sons clashing with fathers. So when the Dubai royal family jousts on the racetrack this afternoon, it will be yet another chapter in the annals of racing that is to be savoured. Jutland, in Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed's green and red silks, will attempt to deny the twin-pronged attack of Godolphin, who saddle Emirates Dream and Fareej, in the three-year-old Racing Uk Handicap on the Glorious Goodwood card.
And it is not as if the sheikhs have the race to themselves. The mile-and-half contest will see 13 other rivals, one of which is Berling, owned by Abba's Benny Andersson, freewheel along Goodwood's unique twists and turns high up on the Sussex Downs. Jutland, a son of the Godolphin-owned Halling, already boasts a success over the royal blue silks, having accounted for the Mahmood Al Zarooni-trained Navy List in a handicap over 10 furlongs at Lingfield Park last month. Trained by Mark Johnston, Jutland then progressed to win another handicap at the beginning of this month, scoring an impressive victory over Epsom's idiosyncratic camber. That performance will have teed-up the mount of Royston Ffrench perfectly for a tilt at today's contest over Goodwood's switchback track.
"This race wasn't always the plan," Johnston said yesterday. "We won at Epsom, and then decided to come here to strike while the iron is hot." Johnston was also quick to dispel any thoughts that the younger sheikh's horse would make way for the challengers running for the Dubai-based operation of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. "At handicap level we run Sheikh Hamdan's horses to achieve the highest rating possible," said Johnston. "Any horse that achieves a handicap rating of over 90 is under consideration either for racing in Dubai, or for assimilation into Godolphin. Anything that has a rating of lower than 90 goes to the sales."
Emirates Dream and Fareej have not capitalised on the glimmer of ability they showed as juveniles. Emirates Dream has yet to win a race since scoring on his debut at York last season, while Fareej has also failed to find the winners' enclosure this year. But as so often is the case at Goodwood, the Frankie Dettori factor must be built into the equation. Dettori, who rides Emirates Dream, has been the top jockey at the Glorious meeting four times.
Even the diminutive Italian, however, could not prevent the unfortunate death of the Al Zarooni-trained Film Score yesterday in the Gordon Stakes, won by Jeremy Noseda's Rebel Soldier. Film Score was already beaten in the Group 3 contest, and although Dettori had to take evasive action from the paths of Dubawi Phantom and Arctic Cosmos, he was near the back when the three-year-old slipped and fell.
"I've felt better," said Dettori afterwards. "He broke his leg high up, which is incredibly sad." The UAE challenge kicked off the five-day meeting slowly when Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid's Almiqdaad finished fourth, the best of the four UAE representatives in the festival curtain-raiser. It was a similar story later in the afternoon, when the sheikh's Finjaan failed to land a blow in the Group 2 Betfair Cup, a race the horse won 12 months ago.