Dubai: As many as 21 horses will compete in the Royal Blue silks of Dubai’s Godolphin stable across three continents and nine racecourses on a busy day for flat racing on Saturday.
However, the spotlight will be on the as the Knavesmire at York Racecourse where Moonlight Spirit contests the Group 3 Silver Cup over a mile and three-quarters.
Trained by Charlie Appleby, the Dubawi colt makes his second appearance of 2020 and will attempt to erase the memories of his below-par performance in the Group 1 Gold Cup at Royal Ascot on June 18.
The mount of Godolphin’s retained rider William Buick Moonlight Spirit enjoyed an encouraging three-year-old season with two strong efforts over a mile and seven furlongs at Longchamp, France, where he comfortably won the Group 3 Prix de Lutece before placing second in the Group 2 Prix Chaudenay.
Commenting on the horse’s chances in the Silver Cup, Appleby told the Godolphin website: “Moonlight Spirit didn’t get the trip in the Gold Cup and the drop back in distance should suit him much better. He ended last season with two very good runs out in France and a return to that level of form will make him a major contender.”
The horse to beat looks to be the Mark Johnston galloper, Communique, who returns after posting a good second place effort in the Grop 2 Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Communique will be ridden by Joe Fanning in the colours of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai.
Another interesting runner is the Abdulla Al Mansoori-owned Universal Soldier, who was last seen winning the Fred Archer Stakes at Newmarket. The Silver Cup, which is restricted to four-year-olds is part of the European Pattern Committee’s commitment’s to improving the race program for stayers in Europe.
On the same card, Saeed Bin Surour’s consistent Cape Cross colt Great Example, the mount of Cieren Fallon, makes his first appearance for nearly 10 months in the John Smith’s Cup, a heritage handicap over an extended mile and a quarter.
The four-year-old was twice successful over 10 furlongs last season and was runner-up in valuable handicaps over the same distance on his final two starts of 2019, including when going down by half a length at Newbury in September.
Saeed Bin Suroor said: “Great Example has been working well at home and this looks the right race for him. He is ready to run and I am hoping for another good performance.”
There are several other contenders with a Dubai connection including Afaak, who represents Royal Ascot Top Owner Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance, the Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum-owned Fifth Position and Saeed Suhail’s Desert Icon.
Meanwhile, Godolphin’s Australia based handler James Cummings has a busy Saturday where he saddles 16 horses across at four racecourses.