GODOLPHIN supplied six of the eight runners in the Group 3 Dubai Millennium Stakes, over 2000m on the turf and, in front of Sheikh Mohammed, attending Meydan for the first time this season, supplied the first five home during the eighth meeting of the 2019 Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan last Thursday. Spotify landed the spoils, as he had done on his Godolphin debut four weeks earlier in a 2410m turf handicap, again ridden by James Doyle for the irrepressible C h a r l i e Appleby, saddling his 14th winner of the 2019 carnival, chased home by Racing History, ridden by Christophe Soumillon for Saeed bin Suroor.
Appleby said: “He is just tough and very genuine. That was a very clever tactical ride from James who has said, if they came to him sooner the horse would have found plenty again. “The horse has been a nice new recruit and, hopefully, can build on this but I doubt that will b e in Dubai and we will likely c a m p a i g n him around Europe.”
Fractious in the preliminaries and reluctant to enter the starting stalls, Divine Image was able to land the UAE Oaks, over 1900m on dirt and restricted to 3yo fillies, snatching Classic glory for Appleby despite William Buick losing his whip, seemingly at a quite early stage of the race. Ultra impressive when winning on her debut, her sole juvenile start as recently as December, the daughter of Scat Daddy stayed on strongly to snatch second, over a mile, in the UAE 1000 Guineas three weeks earlier, and is seemingly maturing with racing experience. Buick explained: “She is just a filly with a lot of energy and very little experience; you have to remember this was just her third start and she is very honest and game. “I dropped my whip so it was ‘hands and heels’ in the straight but, as I said, she has a great attitude.”
Appleby and Buick then combined to land the official feature, the Group 2 Zabeel Mile, back on the turf, with Mythical Magic, considered unlucky by many when second in the 1400m Group 2 Al Fahidi Fort on his local debut four weeks earlier. Only a 4yo, the gelded son of Iffraaj was making it three wins from just nine starts, having landed his first two career outings, including second time out in a Listed race at Deauville. Appleby said: “This is a horse we have always really liked but, as is so often the case, he has had his setbacks but the whole team have worked hard on him and in the autumn we thought he was an ideal carnival horse. “His comeback was good in the Al Fahidi and we were pretty confident the extra 200m here would suit him.
Australia could be next on his agenda but we will sit down and talk about that.” That took Appleby to 16 winners, Buick to nine from just 16 mounts having missed the first month of the carnival due to suspension. The meeting opened with a 1400m dirt handicap in which Rodaini landed the spoils despite being one of the first under pressure with Connor Beasley sending out distress signals on the home turn. However, the 5yo gelded son of Exchange Rate found plenty for pressure and produced a decisive turn of foot about 250m out and was always then holding the final challenge from Moqarrab.
Trained by Ahmad bin Harmash for Abdullah Saeed Al Naboodah, it was a second course and distance victory for the horse this season and his trainer said: “We think 1400m is probably his best trip but when we tried him, the last time, over the distance he was, basically disappointing in HH The President Cup but that was a Listed race on the Abu Dhabi turf and back in class, on dirt, he has delivered tonight at the carnival. “Connor has probably hit the front as early as we would want because the horse does not seem to like headgear but was almost waiting for the others in the final stages.” The 1200m turf handicap looked wide open on paper but as it transpired proved a straightforward assignment for Ekhtiyaar, saddled by Doug Watson for Sheikh Hamdan and partnered by the owner’s retained jockey, Jim Crowley.
Formerly trained in Britain by Roger Varian, winning three times, the 5yo gelded son of Bated Breath made a very pleasing local debut when third, on the first night of the carnival, at the beginning of January but had not been seen in competitive action since. Always travelling well for Crowley, he powered clear entering the final 400m to win in the style of a progressive sprinter. Watson said: “We were drawn two which was a bit of a concern, especially dropping back in trip with him because we know he stays further but everything worked out. “Credit to Jim who has given him a great ride and managed to find some company to race with so we will have to talk to the owner before making plans.
“We dropped him back from 1400m because there are no races over that trip on Super Saturday or Dubai World Cup night so it is exciting to see him win like that.” The concluding 1600m turf handicap was contested by the biggest field of the night, the maximum allowed of 16 and provided Godolphin a fourth success, this time Saeed bin Suroor saddling the winner courtesy of Major Partnership, a first ever UAE success for jockey Kevin Stott. Having been settled in midfield, the 4yo Iffraaj gelding was having his third carnival start and made taking progress early in the straight before hitting the front about 250m from home after which they always seemed to have the race in safekeeping.
Stott said: “This horse shows so much speed at home we even tried him over 1200m but we put cheekpieces on today over this longer trip and they really helped. “Basically he is a horse who just does enough so the headgear helped but he probably still kept a bit for himself so there could be more to come.”