You may well have read elsewhere that when the Henri-Alex Pantall trained Expecting To Fly took a maiden, rewarding connections with less than £8,000 at La Teste De Buch on the sixteenth of August this year, the 320,000 Guineas Iffraaj filly made a little piece of racing history.
She was the 5,000th winner for Godolphin, Sheikh Mohammed’s brainchild that sprang into existence in 1992, close to twenty-six years in the making and still going strong with the familiar blue colours seen on racecourses all over the World. They will be seen this afternoon at Sandown, with three runners. See if they feature in our ITV Racing Tips for this afternoon.
Others have written dry dull articles quoting nothing but statistics, but I have been around for all of the quarter of a century concerned, and I can vaguely remember reading about Cutwater winning at the now shut down Nad Al Sheba in Dubai on Christmas Eve 1992 to become their first ever winner.
Their willingness to open a blank chequebook on occasions has upset a few but kept others in comfortable retirement and overall, their massive investment, largely in the United Kingdom though now spreading their tentacles around the World more and more, has boosted the industry over the years at the cost of a possibly inflated bloodstock market.
On to the horses and no big surprise to see the list of better known winners reading like a Who’s Who of the racing World with the likes of Balanchine (1994 Oaks), Swain (1997 and 1998 King George at Ascot), Daylami (Breeders Cup Turf 1999), and my personal favourite Fantastic Light, who won the 2001 Breeders Cup at Belmont Park at odds of 7/5 carrying every penny I had, and those of pretty much all the Europeans in the Press Room in New York. Since then we have seen Dubai Millennium run away with the Dubai World Cup in 2000 to cement his place in racing history, and then his son Dubawi take the Irish 2000 Guineas in 2005 before making an even bigger name for himself at stud. Add Masar winning the Epsom Derby this year for Charlie Appleby and William Buick in impressive fashion and we are not only talking historically here – the blues roll on regardless of the failures and disappointments which thankfully fail to deter them from further investment.
Not all has been positive with the Mahmood Al Zarooni doping scandal and Frankie Dettori being “let go” for reasons unknown (we don’t listen to rumours), but trainers Saeed Bin Suroor and Charlie Appleby continue to successfully run their two Newmarket yards, though recent years have seen more willingness to diversify with many a purchase remaining in their original stables to the benefits of the likes of John Gosden, Charlies Hills, Richard Fahey, Roger Charlton and now Mark Johnston, while they also use two trainers in France, two in Australia, six in the United States, and seven in Japan as they rapidly expand in yet another racing mad Country.
With James Doyle and William Buick leading the way from the saddle these days (though more and more up and coming jockeys are also being given a shot), Godolphin are quietly going about their business and I doubt it will be as long for the next 5000 winners, with Quorto the next big thing of theirs on the racecourse evidence so far after wins at Newmarket including an impressive Superlative Stakes victory that now sees him trade at odds of 14/1 for the 2019 2000 Guineas. One other horse that may well start punching above his weight is the rapidly improving Loxley, a New Approach colt who quickened up nicely at Deauville last time out and who is now on track for the Prix Niel and then a possible tilt at the Arc itself, though he would need supplementing and Charlie told the waiting press in France that “We will review the situation after the Prix Niel. We will know exactly where we are at that point”, so hold your bets unless you can find “Non Runner No Bet” terms!
by Sean Trivass