Godolphin Well Represented In Thoroughbred Features After Bandar Seeks Repeat

February 24, 2021

Ispolini seen here winning the 2019 Nad Al Sheba Trophy for Charlie Appleby and Godolphin is back in the running for the 2021 edition of the 2810m turf contest (credit: Dubai Racing Club)

DUBAI (February 24, 2021) – The sixth meeting of the 2021 Dubai World Cup Carnival (DWCC) at Meydan on Thursday evening comprises six races, all sponsored by Pillar Partners Gulf News, officially highlighted by the Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy but also featuring the Group 3 Dubai Millennium Stakes with all five Thoroughbred contests on the much lauded turf track. 

Group 3 $195,000 Nad Al Sheba Trophy (2810m T) 

Eight have been declared for the official feature, the 2810m turf Group 3 Nad Al Sheba Trophy sponsored by Gulf News, half of the octet set to represent Godolphin including the Charlie Appleby-trained Ispolini, seeking to provide his trainer a fourth consecutive victory in the race. 

A 6-year-old gelded son of Dubawi, he actually won this is in 2019, when ridden by Mickael Barzalona, but stable jockey, William Buick, is in the saddle this time for what will be his third carnival start of 2021. 

Appleby said: “He needed his first run and ran well second time. They were both handicaps when he has big weights, so on level weights here, he should be thereabouts in a competitive race.” 

Fellow Godolphin handler, Saeed bin Suroor, seeking a fifth win in the race since it was inaugurated in 2010, saddles three with Frankie Dettori seemingly choosing Volcanic Sky, ahead of Ispolini in both aforementioned handicaps when receiving weight from that rival. 

However, the Ismail Mohammed-trained Away He Goes was third in the first of those two handicaps contested by Ispolini and Volcanic Sky before filling the same berth behind Appleby’s Star Safari in a similar 2400m turf handicap. The 5-year-old Farhh gelding appears to hold major claims under Jim Crowley who landed a 2400m Doncaster handicap on the gelding last September. 

Mohammed said: “He has run very well both times this year over 2400m and, we hope, the extra 400m is going to be in his favour.” 

Group 3 $130,000 Dubai Millennium Stakes (2000m T) 

The main support race, the Group 3 Dubai Millennium Stakes sponsored by gulfnews.com has also attracted eight runners, four for Godolphin. Again, Charlie Appleby is seeking a fourth consecutive winner, this time a fifth in six years, and again only has one runner, Star Safari. A 5-year-old gelding by Sea The Stars, he won a course and distance handicap last February, his only 2020 outing and was third, over the same 2000m on turf, in the Listed Zabeel Turf Handicap, on his return this year. Stepped up to 2410m, he then won a turf handicap three weeks ago, from Nad Al Sheba Trophy hopeful Away He Goes. 

Appleby said: “He ran well on his comeback after 11 months off and won nicely last time. That was only his sixth career start and returning to 2000m should not be an issue. He goes there in good order and should at least be competitive.” 

Seeking a fourth success in the race, fellow Godolphin handler, Saeed bin Suroor, saddles three with Frankie Dettori aboard the progressive Bedouin’s Story, suggesting he is considered the main hope.  

His stable companions, Royal Marine and Dream Castle are both Group One winners, the latter over 1900m on the Meydan turf in the Jebel Hatta, one of three big race victories over that trip at the 2019 carnival. 

It would be something of a surprise were Godolphin not to dominate the race, inaugurated in 2011 and already won by their trainers on eight occasions, all but two editions. 

Group 1 165,000 Al Maktoum Challenge R3 (PA 2000m D) 

The curtain raiser, the final Purebred Arabian contest of the carnival and the natural progression to the Kahayla Classic on the Dubai World Cup card, over the same 2000m on dirt, the Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R3 sponsored by gnfocus, features a rematch of last year’s principals. 

Twelve months ago, Bandar landed the spoils under Fernando Jara for Yas Racing and Majed Al Jahoori and will seek to defend his crown without the advantage of a previous outing this season. Last year, on his debut UAE campaign, the homebred 8-year-old had already run five times, highlighted by a second in the 1900m second round of the Al Maktoum Challenge. 

Bandar seen here winning the 2020 Al Maktoum Challenge Round Three (PA) is back to try and defend his crown this year. (credit: Erika Rasmussen, Dubai Racing Club)

He was chased home last year by UAE debutant Rb Texas Hold Em, having his first start for Doug Watson who has saddled him thrice this season, without joy.  

Jean-Claude Pecout opened his UAE account when Brraq landed the 1600m Group 1 Al Maktoum Challenge R1. That remains the trainer’s sole local success, but his stable star was a good second in the 1900m second round. 

Subsequent Kahayla Classic hero AF Maher won this in 2019 for Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda, Ernst Oertel and Tadhg O’Shea who rely on AF Alwajel this year. Tackling a trip beyond 1600m for the first time, he could be a big threat to all. 

O’Shea said: “He is a very smart horse and equally good on dirt and turf. He stays 1600m well and is strengthening as he gets older, so we hope the 2000m will be fine.” 

Elsewhere on the card, back on the turf, the 3-year-old Classic generation get their chance in the 1600m Listed Meydan Classic which looks totally at the mercy of Godolphin and Charlie Appleby who saddles both Naval Crown and Master Of The Seas, the choice of William Buick.  

Buick’s mount, having won his first two career starts over 1400m, was then fourth over the same trip in the Group 1 National Stakes on The Curragh when trying emulate Quorto and Pinatubo, winners of the previous two renewals for the same connections.  

An amazing article. Well done @jonathanstettin #ruffian twitter.com/jonathanstetti…

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