Al Quoz Sprint Sponsored By Azizi Developments (Group 1)
Dubai: The last two runnings of the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint have been all about Godolphin and award-winning trainer Charlie Appleby.
Each is well represented in this year’s renewal, with Appleby dispatching a trio in the 1,200m turf contest and Godolphin’s fourth representing the yard of Saeed Bin Surour.
Appleby is the most successful trainer in the race alongside Mike de Kock, but all that could change on Saturday with Space Blues heading his three-pronged attack, having returned a better horse that what he proved to be when taking seventh on his first and only Meydan outing in the 2020 Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint that is held over the course and distance of the Al Quoz.
Since then, the five-year-old Dubawi entire has won five times on the bounce. Starting with the Listed Spring Trophy Stakes, he would add the G3 Prix de la Porte Maillot, the G2 Lennox Stakes and a first ever G1 win in the form of the Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville in August. After those wins over 1,400m, he was dropped very minimally in trip and won the STC 1351 Turf Sprint, a Conditions event on the Saudi Cup undercard at Riyadh on what was his seasonal bow.
Space Blues will once again be guided by 2019 champion William Buick, who led Royal Crusade to victory in the 1,200m G3 Prix de Ris-Orangis in July, but was seven lengths behind Bin Suroor’s Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint winner Final Song, who also lines up here. Mickael Barzalona rides Royal Crusade, while Richard Mullen has been assigned stablemate Man Of Promise, eighth behind Final Song after beating the same rival by three lengths in the Listed Dubai Sprint in February.
“It is a different ball game for Space Blues taking on the real sprinters over a straight six furlongs but we feel he is the horse to beat,” Appleby said. “He was fresh and keen when he ran over this course and distance last year and ended up doing everything the wrong way round. He is five- now and the finished article.”
Bin Suroor’s Final Song found luck on the third time of asking in the Nad Al Sheba and even there he only managed to hold on by a head in front of Doug Watson’s fast-closing Motafaawit, another contender here.
“Six furlongs looks like her best trip now and, while this will be harder, I think she has a good chance of running another big race,” said Bin Suroor, who won the inaugural edition of the race in 2007 with Great Britain, ridden by Frankie Dettori.
The Italian has a spot aboard Equilateral, one of two being sent out by ace sprint trainer Charles Hills, who will also saddle Khaadem, who runs alongside Shadwell teammate Motafaawit. Equilateral is unbeaten in two starts here this season and enters the gates on the back of a fine win in the G2 Meydan Sprint, while Khaadem was a very close fourth in the G1 Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot last year.
The United States are represented by Brendan Walsh’s Extravagant Kid, with Steve Asmussen saddling Cowan, who has hit the crossbar on his last five appearances. Nigel Tinkler’s Acklam Express has done well in both Group starts here, the latter being a step up in trip to 1200m and resulting in a third behind Final Song in the Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint. Connections of Edward Bethell’s Moss Gill have reported him to be shipshape heading into the race.
1. Space Blues
3. Acklam Express