Godolphin in seventh heaven

Valiant Prince brings home a 1-2-3 finish for the Dubai-owned racing stable in the feature race at the Dubai World Cup Carnival


Leslie Wilson Jr

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Valiant Prince, ridden by James Doyle, wins the Al Rashidiya, the feature race, at the Dubai World Cup Carnival on Friday. — Photo Shihab
Valiant Prince, ridden by James Doyle, wins the Al Rashidiya, the feature race, at the Dubai World Cup Carnival on Friday. — Photo Shihab

Published: Fri 13 Jan 2023, 10:48 PM

Last updated: Fri 13 Jan 2023, 10:50 PM

Eleven years ago an unassuming young jockey from Cambridgeshire, England, showed flashes of his skills when he rode Cityscape to win the prestigious Dubai Duty Free (now Dubai Turf) at Meydan.

It was the first Group 1 victory for James Doyle and the start of an unrelenting romance with Dubai’s iconic racecourse.

Fast-forward to 2023 and Doyle, now well established in the upper echelons of his sport as a key member of the powerful Godolphin racing stable, continues to save his best for the venue.

Having already ridden a three-timer on the opening day of the Dubai World Cup Carnival last week, Doyle returned on Friday to deliver another masterclass aboard Valiant Prince where he led home a 1-2-3 finish for the team in the Al Rashidiya.

A two-time scorer in handicap company at the track last season, the five-year-old son of Dubawi readily stepped up in class to nail the Group 2 contest and open up options for future big race targets like the Group 1 Jebel Hatta on Super Saturday (March 4) and the Group 1 Dubai Turf (March 25).

Godolphin’s Dubai Future, trained by Saeed bin Suroor, finished a competitive second with Ottoman Fleet running on for third.

“This was a big step forward from what he has achieved, both here at Meydan and in the UK,” Doyle told the Dubai Racing Channel.

“I was a bit worried on the bend with a bit of traffic to deal with so the front two stole an initiative but that probably suited him as it turned out.

“Once we found daylight he picked up well and he is growing up mentally which he probably needed to do if he was to fulfill his undoubted potential.”

The winner was the middle leg of a Godolphin treble on the seven-race card sponsored by Azizzi.

Earlier in the event, long-serving Godolphin handler Saeed bin Suroor sent out former dirt star Soft Whisper to win the new Ipi Tombe Stakes for fillies and mares.

The race was once again dominated by Godolphin with the winner’s stable White Moonlight finishing second.

Speaking about Soft Whispers' latest success, Bin Suroor said: “She just keeps improving physically and is bigger and stronger than last year. We have looked after her as we have always liked but she has had a few problems.”

The handler completed a meet double when Electrical Storm won the concluding race of the day, the Azzizi Riviera in the hands of Danie Thudhope, who was also in the irons on Soft Whisper.

“He’s a nice horse who has some solid form on the all-weather in England,” said Bin Suroor. “He’s been working well and we expected him to run well. We will see how he comes out of the race before we look for another race for him in the Carnival.”

Friday’s card also featured the UAE 2000 Guineas Trial which provided French ace Mickael Barzalona a quick double following his victory in the Al Wasl Stakes with Al Dazim, who provided trainer George Boughey a first UAE winner at just the second attempt.

Boughey said: “There is another race for him over this course and distance not too far away but he worked really well on the dirt the other day so trying him on that has always been in our thoughts. We will just enjoy this and think about the future later.”

Another new addition to the Carnival roster was the Thunder Snow Stakes, over the same 2000m on dirt as the Dubai World Cup, which was won by Salute The Soldier and Dutch rider Adrie de Vries for Bahraini trainer Fawzi Nass.

“That was very special and I am just so happy for the horse and the whole team behind him," De Vries said.

"That was a tough race but he did that nicely and he is a very good horse.”

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