Trained by Richard Fahey, Sands Of Mali, brilliant winner of the Group 1 British Champions Sprint in October, beating Godolphin’s Harry Angel, has been partially purchased by Phoenix Thoroughbreds and will now point to the Dubai World Cup card and a run in the $2 million Al Quoz Sprint over 1200m on turf. “We obviously have very high hopes for him,” said Amer Abdulaziz, principal of Phoenix Thoroughbreds. “The Al Quoz will be his target and hopefully Royal Ascot after that. We have partners in the horse and we just thought he was a beautiful animal with so much speed and were very impressed with him at Ascot on British Champions Day. “He will stay with Richard Fahey,” Abdulaziz continued. “Hopefully he comes forward and is an even better 4yo.
And, like I said, he’s just a beautiful horse. “We’re delighted to be entering into this new partnership with such successful owners and we look forward to many rewarding days at the races together. “Richard Fahey has done a remarkable job with the horse to keep him on top form for the whole of last season and we’re thrilled to have him as part of the Phoenix Thoroughbreds team.” Previously owned fully by The Cool Silk Partnership, the son of Panis raced five times as a juvenile in 2017, resulting in a rousing Group Two victory in York’s Gimcrack Stakes. After a pair of subpar efforts in subsequent Group One affairs, he returned as a 3yo to win the Group 3 Prix Sigy Chantilly in April and Haydock’s Group 2 Sandy Lane Stakes six weeks later.
Second in the Group 1 Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot, he then had a trio of disappointing runs in Group One events before returning to form in the best possible way, defeating 2017’s aforementioned top rated sprinter in the world, Harry Angel. A run at the Dubai World Cup Carnival prior to the Al Quoz Sprint has not yet been ruled out, but is unlikely. As mentioned, prior to winning the Champions Sprint, Sands Of Mali had finished second in the Commonwealth Cup and connections are already plotting a return to Royal Ascot for next year’s Diamond Jubilee Stakes. The first major target is though the Al Quoz Sprint on Dubai World Cup night at Meydan.
Fahey added: “It’s a great pleasure to welcome Phoenix Thoroughbreds to Musley Bank. The colt has been a great horse for us and we hope that we can bring this new partnership even greater success than we have had already. We have some exciting targets and I’d be very hopeful of more great days at the races.” Peter Swann, chairman of Scunthorpe United FC, runs the Cool Silk Partnership with his wife’s mother, Barbara Wilkinson, and continued: “It’s been a great ride with Sands Of Mali and we look forward to continuing the journey with Phoenix Thoroughbreds. We have the same ambitions for this horse and we hope for some more high level success.” Phoenix Thoroughbreds also has two high profile 3yos who appear to be prime prospects for the $12 million Dubai World Cup, the world’s richest race at $12 million.
Multiple Graded Stakes winner Axelrod and Belmont Stakes runner-up Gronkowski are headed to Dubai to join the yard of Sandeep Jadhav at the end of the month. “Gronkowski and Axelrod will both be put into quarantine at the end of December,” Abdulaziz said. “We just found out that they are both approved for the Dubai Carnival, so that’s good news. We will point to the Maktoum Challenge races with them and hopefully trial them towards the Dubai World Cup.” A good looking son of Warrior’s Reward, Axelrod made a brief rally but had to settle for ninth in the Breeders’ Cup Classic, a race in which 2018 Dubai World Cup winner Thunder Snow was third. Previously, he was second in the Grade 1 Pennsylvania Derby and won the Indiana Derby and Smarty Jones Stakes, both Grade Three contests, leading into that effort for trainer Mike McCarthy.
“He ran a good race in the Breeders’ Cup, to be honest,” Abdulaziz continued. “You know how it is with horses. You want them to run well and we think he did. He’s only a 3yo and he wasn’t far behind this year’s UAE Derby winner, Mendelssohn, who was fifth. We have high hopes with him. He’s a beautiful horse.” Gronkowski has failed to show the same spark he displayed in the Belmont Stakes, finishing eighth in the Travers Stakes, sixth in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and third, most recently, in the Discovery Stakes. “Gronkowski disappointed us a bit last time, but we think he ran a good race,” he continued. “We thought he could win and the trainer, Chad Brown, thought so too, but we will see what happens after this and once he gets to Dubai.” Abdulaziz also expressed excitement about Phoenix’s presence at the carnival, namely with the likes of dirt bred Pocket Dynamo, a Group Two placed juvenile who, when last seen, was ninth in the $1 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf Sprint, as well as Group Three placed 3yo Lansky, who appears to be a promising turf runner. Both are trained by Robert Cowell and will remain in his care while based at Meydan. “We want our best horses at the carnival and that’s what a lot of our trainers have been instructed to do,” Abdulaziz concluded. “Hopefully we do well.”