Dubai: Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, who has two prized trophies in his possession, can now hope of winning the one everybody covets the most — the Group 1 Epsom Derby, two weeks from now.
Shaikh Hamdan’s Derby dreams were fuelled at York racecourse yesterday after Permian, a Darley-bred son of Teofilo, ran out an imperious winner of the Group 2 Dante Stakes, a rich source of future Epsom Classic winners.
Shaikh Hamdan’s two biggest wins came with Prince Bishop in the 2015 Dubai World Cup and Eastern Anthem in the 2009 Dubai Sheema Classic.
Having his fourth start of the year, and second since stylishly bagging a Listed victory at Newmarket just two weeks ago, the Mark Johnston trainee proved his mettle with a battling performance on the Knavesmire, to score by ¾ lengths from Godolphin’s Benbatl.
Chasing home the Dubai-owned dup was Crystal Ocean, who stayed on well for third.
Godolphin chief executive Ferguson confirmed that Permian will be supplemented for Epsom (at a cost of £85,000) following the instructions of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who launched the Godolphin stable in the early nineties.
“I was absolutely delighted to watch Permian and Benbatl battle to the line,” he told the Dubai Racing Channel. “It was incredibly enjoyable for me and everybody in Dubai.
“He’s now 10-1 for the Epsom Derby and Shaikh Mohammad gave me the instructions that if the horse was well and came out of the race well, supplementing him for the Derby is the right thing to do.
“We’re delighted with the two horses there. I’ve already spoken to Shaikh Mohammad and he is as thrilled as we are and is very keen to have this horse supplemented for the Derby.
“Permian will be supplemented. Saeed [Bin Surour] had Best Solution win the Lingfield Derby Trial and Benbatl finish second in the Dante so we have to sit down, think, decide and talk to Shakh Mohammad about that and what he thinks is the right thing to do.
“With the way Benbatl has run on there, there’s every chance [could go to the Derby]. The Epsom Derby is the Epsom Derby.
Winning trainer Mark Johnston added: “I’m delighted to have a live chance in the Derby.
“He’s clearly progressing and looks to have come on a lot with each run. I wasn’t thinking of the Derby a few weeks ago, but you could see from two out today he was going to win.
“Epsom obviously holds no fears for us and I can’t remember my last Derby runner,” he added, tongue-in-cheek.
“As John said to me before the race, in the Dante you find out if you’re an Epsom Derby horse and now, we’ve got one.”
Saeed Bin Surour commented on Benbatl: “I’m happy with that, he still needs more experience but he’s learning all the time.
“He shows us he is a good horse at home. A mile and a quarter looks to be his trip, but we’re still looking at the Derby as his aim, along with Best Solution. Obviously, Sheikh Mohammed will make the decision.”
Meanwhile, Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby is approaching today’s Group 2 Yorkshire Cup with confidence as he believes that Endless Time has the credentials to win tomorrow’s feature race.
The daughter of Sea The Stars has not been seen on a racecourse since she finished a noteworthy second to the high-class Vazirabad in the Group 1 Prix Royal-Oak at Saint-Cloud in October, but Appleby is unperturbed.
“She is one we have been very much looking forward to seeing on the racecourse again,” he told the stable’s website.
“I am delighted the way she has wintered. She’s in very good condition. The [expected soft] ground will suit.”