Dubai: He is a horse that has only seen the racecourse three times in his career.
But on Saturday. Khalifa Sat will bid to defy the odds and make history as only the ninth horse with a Dubai connection to win the Epsom Derby (Group 1), Britain’s most prestigious richest horse race.
Trained by Classic-winning handler Andrew Balding for Dubai’s Ahmed Al Shaikh, a veteran racehorse owner, Khalifa Sat is set to line up alongside 16 other three-year-old colts to confront the biggest challenge of his young career – conquer the daunting Epsom Racecourse by proving he has the best training, conditioning and ability among the elite group.
Khalifa Sat only began his career 10 months ago when he competed in a Novice Stakes event at Salisbury in September 2019.
However, the son of Irish stallion Free Eagle (High Chaparral) then caught the eye when winning his maiden in the same month, before announcing himself a nice horse for the future with a hard-fought victory in the Lited Cocked Hat Stakes at Goodwood on June 14, this year.
On Saturday, Khalifa Sat will be ridden by in-form jockey Tom Marquand, who believes that the horse deserves his place in the 2,400 metre contest.
Marquand should know best having ridden the colt to victory at Goodwood last month.
“I think he holds attributes that are pretty strong factors in whether you run well or not at Epsom,” Marquand, who lost the ride on Epsom Derby favourite English King to Frankie Dettori, said in the Racing Post.
“He showed at Goodwood he handles a tricky track, he’s shown he’s capable of winning, has a great attitude and he’s pretty versatile with the ground.”
The rider added: “Khalifa Sat is clearly a nice horse and was fending off the runner-up, who was well fancied at Goodwood, all the way to the line, so we know he stays as well.
“It’s great to have a ride in the race and a decent ride at that.”
Marquand will be making his Derby debut aboard the 33/1 outsider. “It will be my first ride in the race and any ride in the Derby is good.”
Owner Ahmed Al Shekih took to twitter to share some words of encouragement for Marquand, 22, is one of the brightest young riders on the scene and has displayed his big-race potential by riding his first Group 1 winner during a successful stint in Australia and last week also registered his first success at Royal Ascot.
“Delighted that aspiring young jockey @TomMarquand will be on board Khalifa Sat in the Derby,” he said in his post.
“Trainer Andrew Balding and I are keen to see him take this chance, having paved the way to the Epsom Classic with this horse during his recent win at Goodwood.”
Balding also saddles Khalifa Sat’s stablemate Kameko, the 2,000 Guineas winner, who is the 9/2 second favourite behind behind the market-leader English King (5/2).
Frankie Dettori, a dual Derby winner, stole the ride from Marquand being a close friend of English King’s owner Bjorn Nielsen, who also owns triple Ascot Gold Cup winner Stradivarius.
Marquand showed himself to a fine sport as he said: “It is one of those things. It’s happened before and it will happen again. It’s a competitive sport.”
Horses with a Dubai connection to have won the Epsom Derby
1989: Nashwan (Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance)
1994: Erhaab (Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum)
1995: Lammtarra (Sheikh Saeed Bin Maktoum Al Maktoum, Godolphin)
1996: Shaamit (Khalifa Bin Dasmal)
1998: High-Rise (Sheikh Mohammad Obaid Al Maktoum)
2003: Kris Kin (Saeed Suhail)
2008: New Approach (Princess Haya Bint Hussein)
2018: Masar (Godolphin)