Dubai: Champion jockey Silvestre de Sousa rode a perfectly judged race aboard the progressive Communique to win the London Gold Cup Handicap as Rhododendron announced himself as a high class miler by taking out the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes at Newbury Racecourse on Saturday.
On an eventful day in Great Britain, with the Royal nuptials taking place at nearby Windsor Castle, the FA Cup Finals at Wembley and the Scottish Cup at Hampden Park in Glasgow, several horses with Dubai connections were vying for glory at Newbury’s first major race meeting of the season.
While Addeybb and Massaar were strongly fancied to fly the flag for Maj. General Shaikh Ahmad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Chief of Dubai Police and Public Security, it was Communique who picked up the mantle to post an impressive victory.
Trained by Mark Johnston for Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, the winner was produced approaching the final two furlongs before switching gears to lead and allowed to pull away for a 1 ¾ victory over stable companion Poet’s Prince, the mount of Joe Fanning.
Massaar, who was sent off as the favourite, failed to make an impression after racing at towards the rear, and could only finish fourth under Andrea Atzeni.
De Sousa secured a nice position from stall three, saving energy on the sweep to the first bend before asking his horse for his effort in the home straight.
Winning trainer Johnston told Racing UK: “I said to Joe Fanning beforehand that I thought Poet’s Prince was my first string. With a furlong and a half to go I thought it was all over, as Poet’s Prince was travelling so well.
“I thought Communique was falling back and I had to do a double take when I saw something coming out the pack and realised it was him.
“Silvestre de Sousa said he is not a fast-ground horse, but I think for the moment he is.
“He has seen it out well, but it didn’t look like that early on in the race. My first thought would be the King George V Stakes.”
Moments later at Newmarket, the Shaikh Hamdan-owned New Winds was recording an impressive victory in a novice stakes event for fillies.
The Lockinge Stakes, which is the first race in the British Champion Series for miler, has been won by some of the greatest racehorses in the history of the turf — from Brigadier Gerard in 1972 to the unsurpassable Frankel more recently.