Sunday, August 18, 2013

Godolphin lines up a Royal bid for Cup

Godolphin stayer Royal Empire (right) holds off Red Cadeaux (left) to win the Freer Stakes at Newbury.

Cup bid: Royal Empire wins the Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury and is Melbourne-bound.

Godolphin has yet to win the Melbourne Cup, but its hopes for 2013 success have been boosted with the emergence of promising stayer Royal Empire, who saw off the strong challenge of the 2011 Cup runner up Red Cadeaux in the Group Two Geoffrey Freer Stakes (2600 metres) at Newbury in the early hours of Sunday morning.

The Kieron Fallon partnered four-year-old was scoring for the third time in his six starts in 2013, but this was by far the best of his victories: Red Cadeaux is a wonderful yardstick who has proved himself a stayer of the highest class in races all over the world. He, too, is set for a return Down Under to try and go one better than he did in the Cup two years ago, when he was beaten a fraction by Dunaden.

Royal Empire scored by a length and half from Ed Dunlop's globetrotter, with another familiar Godolphin face in Australia, Lost in the Moment, half a length away in third place. The latter was a respectable sixth in the Melbourne Cup that produced the closest finish ever between Dunaden and Red Cadeaux, and also finished fifth last year in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes behind runaway winner Puissance De Lune, this year's Cup favourite.

Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford said after the race that the Cup would be Royal Empire's target : "I am very pleased with that. He is progressing all the time and I hope the handicapper was as impressed as I was and pushes him up another 3lb (1.5 kilos) because I think he will need it to get into the Melbourne Cup. He is very solid and we will try and get a couple more runs into him before Melbourne. Where we go for those runs however, I'm not sure,'' Crisford was quoted as saying in Racing Post.


Red Cadeaux will now be set for his third trip to Melbourne. George Peckham, assistant trainer to Ed Dunlop, said in The Sporting Life: "It's great to see him back to his best and the weight just beat him. The plan is to go into quarantine and start off in the Caulfield Cup."

The Australian Bloodstock-owned Dandino showed he too was well on course for the Australian spring  after emulating his Marco Botti trained, Australian Bloodstock owned stablemate Jakkalberry 12 months earlier with a win in the American St Leger at Arlington Park in Chicago.

The US might not be famed for producing stayers, but this 2800-metre contest is still a good one to win, and the son of Dansili proved too good for the locals and another English challenger in Wigmore Hall with his victory under Ryan Moore, who was beaten into fifth place aboard the English trained Melbourne Cup favourite Mount Athos at Flemington last year. Dandino, the odds-on favourite, scored by half a length from Suntracer.
Jakkalberry came to Australia for the same connections last year and finished third in the Melbourne Cup, but he is injured and out of contention this season.

On the same card Qatar Racing's Side Glance did best of a handful of European trained Cox Plate possibilities when he ran third to Real Solution and The Apache in a controversial race in which the South African trained The Apache was first past the post but disqualified. Stewards ruled that the Mike De Kock trained galloper had drifted across the track and taken the ground of the American trained runner up, whom he narrowly defeated.
Side Glance, trained by Andrew Balding, ran on well for third and did best of the Cox Plate entries, finishing ahead of Mull of Killough and Guest of Honour.
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