Author: Duane Fonseca
After a year like never before, Godolphin have reset to zero. And while their first ever Epsom Derby and Melbourne Cup victories with Masar and Cross Counter respectively and Thunder Snow’s stunning Dubai World Cup success will be remembered with absolute fondness, top brass at the royal blue silks believe it’s time to look ahead and towards the goals laid down by founder HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum for 2019. Resting on laurels of the past is definitely not part of the agenda and Al Adiyat spoke with Hugh Anderson, the Managing Director of Godolphin UK and Dubai, to recap on a year that was and what lies ahead.
Excerpts How do you look at Godolphin’s performance over this past year?
We are at the end of 2018 and as I think it’s generally acknowledged it’s been the best year in Godolphin’s history: 30 Group One victories all around the world in the Middle East, Australia, America, Europe and in Japan. It couldn’t have been a better year from a racing point of view. Every credit to HH and his team led by Charlie Appleby and the Moulton Paddocks crew. They have picked up two brilliant victories in the most impressive way you could imagine and it couldn’t have been better.
What would you underline as the most striking bit about this wave of success?
The way I answer that is by looking at the type of victories that these Group Ones add up to and when you look at it the things that stand up are essentially our in house trainers delivering. Saeed bin Suroor has had nine Group One winners including Thunder Snow in the Dubai World Cup, Charlie Appleby has 12, James Cummings with six. So our in house trainers are performing really well. And out of the 30 Group Ones the vast majority are homebreds and I think that’s a very important part as well. We seem to be at a point where our mares are absolutely top quality, our stallions like Dubawi are pretty much the best in the world and when you combine those two factors, I think you end up with the sort of results we’ve enjoyed this year.
Knowing Godolphin the bar is definitely going to be raised higher next season…
I think yes. That’s the big challenge and we are obviously thinking about it and I look at 2019 with a great deal of optimism. In all sport you reset to zero when the year starts again and racing is no exception but I think if we’re not confident about 2019 it means we are looking at 2018 and thinking it was some kind of a fluke and it certainly wasn’t as I’ve just described. It’s a culmination of a lot of factors that have delivered these results and I really expect that 2019 is a year we can go into with great confidence with great 2yos especially in Europe which is where I am obviously very interested. Charlie and Saeed have both delivered two 2yo Group One winners. Royal Marine, Line Of Duty and Quorto so that’s a fantastic starting point but then we could fall back on all the horses and I would expect the Dubai WCC to be a successful one for us. We are an international sports team and HH Sheikh Mohammed set Godolphin up to challenge for these prizes all around the world and we try and follow his leadership and do that. I don’t think there’s any reason not to be very optimistic about the year ahead.
How hungry are you to win races that Godolphin haven’t won yet like the Kentucky Derby and the Japan Cup?
There’s clearly a hunger. We obviously need to win those races, particularly the Kentucky Derby. We need the right horses and I think there’s every chance that we will be able to look at them with great optimism. I think there’s a couple of 2yos in America who are looking very promising and I think if any of our trainers think we can have a good tilt at the Kentucky Derby we’ll do it with HH Sheikh Mohammed’s blessings. We are here to deliver for His Highness at the highest level. He shows us such loyalty and such patience and I think every single person who wears the Godolphin blue is so proud that we are at a point where we are coming close to delivering what he deserves.
Can you recall any special moments about the Epsom Derby or the Melbourne Cup?
The Epsom Derby was I think the most significant win of the year and what I think was most important about that was His Highness, his close family and HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum whose horse of course came second, were all there to watch this momentous victory. I think for all of us that is the moment that would stick in our minds for 2018 when we saw a real joy and a realisation of years and years of hard work and devotion. The thing about Masar is that he is a horse whose history and and bloodlines go right back into the start of even Darley. So it’s generations of breeding fantastic racehorses that resulted in this wonderful win. His sire is New Approach, who is owned by HRH Princess Haya and I don’t think that day could ever be beaten. I think you only need to see the photos of His Highness receiving the Derby trophy and the sheer pleasure on the faces of him and his family to know what it meant to him.
Could you speak about the Masar Godolphin programme and how that’s come along so far?
I think the programme has improved and the students are a great credit to Godolphin and Dubai and the Emirates. I think they have learned a lot during their time with the programme and these people passed a pretty rigorous test to be on the programme and I feel they are going to go on to big things. It’s pretty wonderful that Godolphin have played a part in their future and of course they are blessed because they are called the Masar programme and they were there at Epsom when Masar won the Derby. So they had a wonderful year and I would expect that to be one of the great moments of their individual lives.
Where do you see the Masar Godolphin programme headed?
We are giving these young people a good grounding, but for them to make a success I suppose we have to wait a few years. I think quality people achieve great things. The first year’s graduates are getting into very interesting jobs, some of them are in the racing industry some are finding their way outside, but whatever they do I think they’ve learned a great deal from this programme and they will always be Godolphin Masar graduates and I hope and expect that they will be able like the Godolphin Flying Start students and will really make a good impression on our world as the years go by.