THE YEAR 2020 will long be remembered for the Covid-19 pandemic, sadly still affecting racing and the rest of the world in general, but it was still a memorable one for Godolphin. From the success of Bivouac in the Newmarket Handicap in early March through to Fair Maiden in the La Brea Stakes last month the team worldwide accumulated 18 Group One winners.
That is not their record, they recorded 30 in 2018, but the Dubai World Cup, to name but one, was a big race meeting to fall foul of the pandemic and scupper Group One opportunities Godolphin tend to prosper in. Leading owner, again, at the Dubai World Cup Carnival, only Sheikh Hamdan denied them adding to their 12 Champion Owner titles in Britain.
Confirmed as Champion Owner in Australia during the summer, they are well on course to defend that title in a season that starts in one year, finishes the next. Godolphin SNC, the moniker under which the horses sporting the royal blue silks compete in France, also topped the table, 60 winners amassing €1,994,057, just €7,465 more than runner-up White Birch Farm.
The 60 Godolphin winners included Classic success for Victor Ludorum in the French 2000 Guineas, or Poule d’Essai des Poulains if you prefer, as well as further Group One victories for Pinatubo in the Prix Jean Prat and Space Blues in the Prix Maurice de Gheest, the latter pair both trained in England by Charlie Appleby.
However, Persian King, a horse campaigned in partnership, was arguably the star of the Godolphin French season with victories in both the Group 1 Prix d’Ispahan and Prix du Moulin de Longchamp to add to last year’s Classic success in the Poulains. That Classic is traditionally contested at ParisLongchamp but Victor Ludorum landed this year’s renewal at Deauville due to the traditional venue being unavailable with Paris locked down due to Covid.
Other Group One Godolphin success secured at alternative venues included Appleby’s Ghaiyyath romping home in the Coronation Cup, not only moved from Epsom to Newmarket but not part of the Derby meeting on the Epsom Downs. With three Group One victories, Ghaiyyath and stable companion Barney Roy were the most prolific contributor to the top level tally with the aforementioned Persian King, as well as Bivouac and Essential Quality all contributing a pair apiece.
Appleby with eight was the most contributing trainer, a number that could easily have reached double figures had the Dubai World Cup fixture gone ahead when Ghaiyyath would have been one of the hottest favourites on the card. Godolphin Australia head trainer, James Cummings, saddled four Group One winners with French maestro Andre Fabre adding three to the final tally of 18.
With the sport continuing to be impacted, but thankfully still taking place under severe restrictions in most jurisdictions, Sheikh Mohammed’s global racing organisation will be hoping for further such success. Who knows, 18 Group One winners may be improved on with the race now on to be the first top flight victor of 2021 to add to the 333 such victories recorded so far since the inception in 1994.