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Godolphin can end season on a high note

British Champion Owners’ title beckons at Ascot finale on Saturday

Gulf News

Dubai: Godolphin, who are on the verge of winning a 12th UK Owners’ Championship, will be hoping to crown another outstanding year at British Champions Day, the season finale at Ascot on Saturday.

The stable, created and owned by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, will be officially awarded the accolade of leading owner for having amassed the highest prize money among all owners.

Going into the weekend Godolphin have pocketed £5.2 million from (Dh25.18 million) 131 British winners.

Irish powerhouse Coolmore are second on the table with £2,9 million from eight winners while Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, is third placed with £2,3 million with 105 winners.

However, those figures could change with a record-breaking £4.3 million prize money on offer across five ultra-competitive races at Ascot on Saturday.

The showpiece event is the £1.1 million Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (Group 1) where Godolphin provide the ante-post favourite, Ribchester, who has done nothing but thrive this year.

Trained by Richard Fahey in North Yorkshire, the four-year-old has notched three major Group 1 victories including the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury, Royal Ascot’s opening day show[piece, the Queen Anne Stakes and the Prix du Moulin.on Arc day at Chantilly, on his latest start.

Godolphin have an unrivalled record on the race with five wins from Mark of Esteem (1996), Dubai Millennium (1999), Summoner (2001), Ramonti (2007) to Poet’s Voice (2010).

Another vintage renewal of Europe’s richest mile contest the QE II has attracted several leading milers led by Andrew Balding’s three-race winner Beat The Bank and dual Guineas hero Churchill.

Ribchester was touched off by Minding in last year’s renewal but Fahey was bristling with optimism a year on.

“Everything has gone according to plan. He’s a very easy horse to train with no issues, touchwood,” he said in Sportinglife. “I’m able to get the work into him when I want and he’s a very willing horse who enjoys his work, which is a huge help.

“He tends to go on any ground. When he got beaten at Goodwood I’m not blaming the [heavy] ground, I’m blaming the conditions — it was blowing a gale and pouring down with the rain. It was a horrible day. If you’ve ever run yourself in rain and wind, it’s not comfortable and it just caught him out, but he’s bounced back and won a Group 1 in France since, so we are very happy and comfortable with him.”

Godolphin also look to have a strong hand in the Group 1 British Champions Sprint with Harry Angel heading a field of 14 left in this six furlong dash. Godolphin won this contest in 1996 with Diffident and repeated the feat in 2000 with Sampower, both trained by Saeed Bin Surour.

Others in the mix are Caragaggio, the Tin Man and Quiet Reflection.

AT A Glance

Champions Day races:

British Champions Long Distance Cup (G2) 1m 7f

British Champions Sprint Stakes (G1) 6f

British Champions Fillies & Mares Stakes (G1) 1m 3f

Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (G1) 1m

Champion Stakes (G1) 1m 1f

Latest Odds

Queen Elizabeth II Stakes (G1) 1m

Ribchester (9/4); Beat The Bank (9/2); Churchill (5); Al Wukair (7/2); Thunder Snow (16); Here Comes When (25); Lightning Spear (25); Persuasive (25); Roly Poly (25)