Dubai: Godolphin’s Ghaiyyath is now arguably the best horse in the world.
Charlie Appleby’s pride and joy romped to a third successive Group 1 victory in the most emphatic fashion, dominating a small but high-quality field from the start to win the Group 1 Juddmonte International Stakes, the opening day’s highlight of York’s historic four-day Ebor Festival.
Ridden by Godolphin’s retained rider William Buick, who described Ghaiyyath as one of the best horses he has ever been associated with, the four-year-old son of Dubawi grabbed the lead from the go, moved into a high cruising speed and produced a superior set of gears as the line appeared to pull away for a compelling three-length victory.
The Aidan O’Brien-trained Magician, who was seeking a seventh Group 1 victory, was no match for the Godolphin galloper who was adding to his astonishing victories in the Coronation Cup and the Coral-Eclipse Stakes earlier this year.
The Godolphin-bred Lord North, winner of the Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot last month, finished third in the hands of James Doyle.
There is a tantalizing possibility that Ghaiyyath could now attempt to win the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp, France, at the second time of asking.
Ghaiyyath finished 10th behind Waldgeist in Europe’s greatest race last October but having blossomed into a top class middle-distance horse this season as evidenced by his Group 1 hat-trick, he would appear to be a leading contender to challenge the wonder women of flat racing Enable (5/2 favourite), the first horse to win a third King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes, and Love (11/4) the 1,000 Guineas and Oaks heroine Love.
The Juddmonte International has been won by some of thoroughbred racing’s greatest horses and Ghaiyyath justifiably joins the elite club ruled by Frankel, Sulamani, Halling and Dahlia.
“I’m absolutely delighted with that performance today most importantly for His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid al Maktoum (Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. And the team Godolphin,” trainer Charlie Appleby told ITC Racing.
“It is an honour to have a horse like this on our hands and what a fantastic ride by William. It was a nice race to watch, he got into a lovely rhythm and coming up the straight the others Guys made their move on him, but once I saw William just gather him up I was always confident he’d keep galloping strong to the line.”
Buick, who has ridden Ghaiyyath in 10 of his 12 career starts, was full of praise for the horse and added: “This horse can do things that most horses cannot. His high cruising speed, the way he keeps coming and at the business end he has another gear to finish the race off completely.
He is high-class and he’s now got everything on his CB. He’s beaten the best around at this trip.
“He’s obviously very good at a mile and a quarter but he stays a mile and half. It will be interesting to see whether he’ll get a season target like the Arc. I don’ know.
“His Highness and Charlie will decide what’s best for the horse but as the ground wasn’t bad I think the Arc would be a very interesting target for him.”
Buick also categorically confirmed that Ghaiyyath was the best horse he has ever ridden to ITV Racing.
Earlier in the afternoon, long-shot Royal Ascot winner Pyledriver sprung nother surprise to win the Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes. The winner is trained by William Muir and ridden by his son-in-law Martin Dwyer, Following the win Pyledriver (was cut to 6-1 (from 16) for the St Leger.