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Winter Lightning on Classic trail after Meydan romp

UAE Oaks the next target for Godolphin’s classy 1,000 Guineas heroine

Gulf News

Dubai: Godolphin’s Winter Lightning has earned the right to challenge for a second UAE Classic after romping to victory in the 1,000 Guineas, sponsored by Friday at Meydan Racecourse on Thursday night.

Ridden by Pat Cosgrave for long-serving Godolphin trainer Saeed Bin Surour, the daughter of Shamardaal raced in mid division for most of the 1600-metre trip on dirt, before being asked for her effort approaching the final furlong. And the response was immediate and emphatic as Winter Lightning comfortably eased past long-time leader, Rayya, the mount of Patrick Dobbs, to run on powerfully for a two-length victory.

Expressiy, ridden by William Buick for Bin Surour’s Godolphin workmate Charlie Appleby, was two-and-a-half lengths back in third.

The winner was providing Bin Surour with a record 10th UAE 1,000 Guineas, a race that he won in its inaugural year in 2001 with Muwakleh and most recently in 2015 with Local Time.

“We’re very happy with that performance,” said Bin Surour. “We expected her to improve following the trial and she’s come on a lot since that race, as we saw tonight.

“The plan is the UAE Oaks [Group 3, 1,900 metres] on March 1 and depending on how she runs there we’ll make plans for the future. But we don’t intend to rush things with her.

“She’s a natural big-striding filly and I think she’ll have no problem getting the nine furlongs in the Oaks. She’s bigger and stronger this year and her preparation has been very smooth. She did it well and we couldn’t be happier.”

Cosgrave, who was winning the 1,000 Guineas for the first time, was all praise for Winter Lightning.

“She’s a filly with a bit of class,” said the jockey. “It’s only her third career start and she not yet the finished article. But with a little more sun on her back here in Dubai I think she’ll improve further.

“I’d like to see her in the middle of summer, back in the UK, she’s going to progress.”

Cosgrave echoed Bin Surour’s confidence and indicated that the extra distance in the UAE Oaks would not pose a problem to the daughter of Shamardal.

“The mile is a perfect trip but if I ride her easy, like I did today, I don’t think it should be a problem. Like I said she’s such an easy horse to ride and I’m not worried about her staying further.”

The UAE 1,000 Guineas was the first of seven races on a glitter card that was sponsored in full by Gulf News, a pillar partner with Meydan.