Dubai: The dream lives on for Dubai horse owner Ahmed Al Shaikh after his stable star Khalifa Sat ran an outstanding race to finish second in the Group 1 Derby at Epsom racecourse in Surrey, England, on Saturday.
Partnered by Tom Marquand, the 50-1 outsider chased eventual winner Serpentine throughout the 2,400 metre contest and held on resolutely to deny his more fancied rivals including the two big favourites Kameko (Oisin Murphy) and English King (Frankie Dettori).
Al Shaikh, who acquired the Irish-bred son of Free Eagle for a sum of 40,000 pounds as a yearling, revealed that the colt will now be targeted at all the major staying races in the world, including the St Leger (Doncaster, September 12), Melbourne Cup (Flemington, November 3) and Dubai Sheema Classic (Meydan, March 27, 2021).
“I had a dream, not of winning the Derby, but to see my horse finish among the top five in the race,” he told Gulf News on Sunday. “But to finish second in such a prestigious race with so many good horses is beyond my wildest dreams.
“This is an unforgettable result, my best ever. Obviously I’m so excited about where we can go next with Khalifa Sat, who has proven that he’s a genuine stayer. It’s still early days but obviously all the world’s top races around 2,800 metres, and above, will be considered.
“When we bought him, with the help of Andrew (Balding, his trainer), he told me that this horse would be special. And Khalifa Sat has lived up to that boast. I’m so happy for Andrew as well.
“Horses like him come once in a lifetime and we will campaign him at the highest level before he eventually goes to stud, something that I’m so looking forward to as well. He has the potential to be a top stallion prospect.”
Khalifa Sat gets his name from one of the world’s most technologically advanced remote sensing observation satellites — and the first 100 per cent designed and manufactured in the UAE at the Mohammad Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) in Dubai.
“When I first heard about the launch of the space station I submitted the name with the Jockey Club and paid the fee to reserve the name,” revealed Al Shaikh.
“However, it was only a year later when we bought him at the Irish sales that I told Andrew that we will name the horse Khalifa Sat. And he has lived up to the exalted name in just a matter of four races, two of which he has won at Goodwood last year.”
Al Shaikh said that the response he received from people in high places after Khalifa Sat’s performance in the Derby, was like he had actually won the race.
“I think I have received more than 2,000 congratulatory calls so far,” he said. “My phone battery even ran out.
“It’s such a great feeling. I’m so inspired by this great result. The winner stole the race from under our noses, good luck to him and his trainer Aidan O’Brien. But we will be back with Khalifa Sat soon.”