Dubai: Dubai’s Godolphin stable struck gold at the $20 million Saudi Cup meeting in Riyadh on Saturday, securing two major wins on a stacked card run at the King Abdulaziz Racetrack.
First up, Godolphin handler Charlie Appleby gained redemption for last year’s defeat in the $1m Turf Sprint when Space Blues out-powered last year’s winner Dark Power for a compelling three-quarter-length victory.
It was then the turn of fellow Godolphin trainer Saeed Bin Surour to demonstrate why Godolphin is one of the most feared and respected racing operations in the world when Gifts Of Gold won the $2.5m Red Sea Turf Handicap.
Twelve months ago it was a different story when Dark Power, a son of Dark Angel trained by Allan Smith in Bahrain, denied the Appleby duo of Mubtasim and Glorious Journey in the Turf Sprint.
However, on this occasion Space Blues and stable jockey William Buick deservedly gained revenge when he dominated his conqueror of 2020 to to secure a first success for Godolphin in the race. A neck back in third was local hope Urban Icon and Joel Rosario, who is trained in Saudi Arabia by Fahad Saad,
“Absolutely delighted with that,” said Appleby. “We knew he was a class horse coming into the race and he had a lovely draw. I could see (the ground) was a bit loose for him and our concern was that he might just spin a bit on it, but he’s come back on the bridle and put the race to bed at the right time.
“He travels for fun, watching the race there. I’ll be interested to see what William has to say because obviously Dubai World Cup night has to be taken into consideration.”
Buick added: “We had a great run through. He broke well and the pace was perfect. It wasn’t too hot or too slow. It was how I hoped the race would pan out. He was the best horse and I didn’t want to go for any heroics. You’d imagine this would set him for the Al Quoz (Sprint at Meydan on World Cup night).”
Dark Power’s handler Smith took the defeat in his stride and said: “Charlie’s horse was always coming, but no disgrace for Dark Power. He ran a fantastic race and Frankie gave it a good run. Good luck to Charlie. We’d done him last year and he’s done us this year. We’ve been invited to the Dubai World Cup meeting for the Al Quoz and I suppose if anything that’ll be his next move.”
Godolphin handler Bin Surour revealed that the plan to target the $2.5m Red Sea Turf was hatched in January, and that Gifts Of Gold was the perfect horse for the raid.
After Gifts Of Gold came home by a length-and-a-quarter from Spanish Mission, with fellow Godolphin-trained Secret Advisor finishing strongly to claim third. Bin Surour said: “This was the plan since January when racing started in Dubai. I thought he would be the perfect horse. He’s a big strong horse and he ran well. Pat is good jockey and he has won big races for us in Australia, England and Germany. We’re happy. We will take him back to Dubai and maybe he will go for the Dubai Gold Cup. I’m sure he will improve some more.”
Meanwhile, Japan won the Saudi Derby for the second year in succession when Pink Kamehameha comfortably held off the late finishing Cowan and British raide New Treasure in the 1600m contest. The meeting opened with the Obaiya Arabian Classic (Purebred Arabians) over 2,000m on Dirt and was comfortably won the Saudi star Mubasher Al Khalediah.