SHEIKH MOHAMMED may have gifted the Queen another top class horse judging by the debut success of Desert Flyer in a mile novice stakes for 2yos at Newcastle on Saturday. The present was an especially noble gesture as the filly, trained by John Gosden and ridden by Robert Havlin, carried the royal silks to a comfortable victory over one of the sheikh’s own horses, Godolphin’s Golden Horn gelding Spectrum Of Light. The presence of hot favourite Dublin Pharoah, a Roger Varian-trained son of American Pharoah who had finished a promising fourth on debut at Chelmsford last month, gives the form a ring of credibility. It doesn’t look out of the question that Desert Flyer could rise to the same heights of other classy horses bred by Godolphin and raced by the Queen, including Magnetic Charm, successful in this year’s Michael Seely Memorial Fillies’ Stakes;
Dartmouth, winner of the Hardwicke Stakes and Yorkshire Cup; and Carlton House, who took the Dante Stakes and ran third in the Derby. Desert Flyer is the 12th winner to emerge from Kildangan Stud stalwart Shamardal’s outstanding 2yo crop, the result of his first season as a private stallion for the Maktoum family and already the source of three unbeaten Group One victors, champion elect Pinatubo, Earthlight and Victor Ludorum, plus Listed scorer Ickworth and Group placed Royal Crusade and Triple Ace. She is out of White Moonstone, a daughter of Dynaformer who was unbeaten in four starts for Godolphin, all at two, including in the Sweet Solera Stakes, May Hill Stakes and Fillies’ Mile. Desert Flyer is White Moonstone’s fourth foal and the third to grace a winner’s enclosure after Wemyss Ware, a 3yo Dubawi gelding who is trained by Sir Michael Stoute for the Queen and won a 1m2f novice stakes at Chelmsford on his second start in October, and Dufay, who took a 7f maiden in the French provinces for Godolphin.
All-weather novice and maiden races in Britain in the winter have taken on a greater significance in recent years, with Gosden having unleashed several of his stable stars in such events, not least his Oaks winners Anapurna and Enable. In fact, two years ago, the race won by Desert Flyer at Newcastle was taken by subsequent St James’s Palace Stakes hero Without Parole on his first start.