Siskany hopes to follow in Cross Counter's footsteps

It remains to be seen how the son of Dubawi can cope with the extra two furlongs of the Gold Cup


Leslie Wilson Jr

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Siskany, the winner of the 2021 Novice Stakes at Windsor in the UK, carries Godolphin's hopes in the $1 million Dubai Gold Cup on Saturday. — Photo Godolphin
Siskany, the winner of the 2021 Novice Stakes at Windsor in the UK, carries Godolphin's hopes in the $1 million Dubai Gold Cup on Saturday. — Photo Godolphin

Published: Fri 24 Mar 2023, 12:18 AM

Godolphin handler Charlie Appleby, who won this four years ago with Melbourne Cup hero Cross Counter, will be looking to repeat the feat with Siskany, a decisive winner of last month’s Nad Al Sheba Trophy.

While that win came over 2,800 metres it remains to be seen how the son of Dubawi, who oozed class on the day, can cope with the extra two furlongs of the Gold Cup.

William Buick is in no doubt, having described Siskany as a horse who can change gears over longer distances and use his turn of foot to good use.

“He stays well and, like any good stayer, he has that gear change over this trip, which sets him apart in this company. He has been a rock-solid horse from day one,” the jockey said after the Nad Al Sheba Trophy.

However, Gold Cup represents a big step up in class and Appleby’s star stayer comes up against some serious long-distance horses in Italian Derby scorer Ardakan, winner of the race in 2021, Ireland’s much-travelled Broome and fellow Godolphin hope Passion And Glory.

Trained by Saeed bin Suroor, who is looking for a third Gold Cup trophy after Opinion Poll (2012) and Cavalryman (2013), Passion and Glory comes into the race on the back of an impressive victory in the Listed His Majesty King Hamad Bin Isa Al Khalifa Cup on March 10.

Bin Suroor has called upon old ally and two-time Dubai World Cup-winning jockey Christophe Soumillon to partner his stayer for the first time.

“He’s still progressing and while this looks a very tough race, I think he deserves a chance to test himself against some top-class stayers,” Bin Suroor said. “He came back from Bahrain in good condition and has been training well.

“Christophe knows his way around Meydan and should go well with Passion And Glory. With a little luck and a positive ride, we’re hoping he can finish in the front group .”

Meanwhile, Ardakan looks like the main threat to the Godolphin pair.

Marco Botti’s leading stayer delivered a couple of eye-catching efforts during the Dubai World Cup Carnival, especially when he was a closing second to Siskany in the Nad Al Sheba Trophy.

Bhupat Seemar’s Al Nayyir was third in that race and deserves to be factored into the equation.

Another interesting contender is the Ian Williams-trained Enemy, a smart winner of the Dubai Racing Club handicap in January.

The six-year-old son of Muhaarar was also an excellent second at the Saudi Cup last month.

While acknowledging that the Gold Cup is a huge step up in class for Enemy, Williams said he was really ‘pleased’ with his work at Meydan earlier this week.

“I was pleased with him, he looks nice and fresh but not too fresh. He moved well and Antonio (Fresu) who’s ridden him in all his work since he’s been out here said he was in great form, so I’m looking forward to running him on Saturday,” said the Worcestershire-based handler.

“He took the eye I must say. The first day I saw him in Saudi he looked poor and dry and that wasn’t a nice way to see him three days before the race.

“I couldn’t be happier here. He worked over a mile and a quarter, gradually quickening up before doing a nice canter to finish. We were just giving him a blow to keep that engine fresh.”

Saturday’s 16-strong field also includes fellow British raider Al Qareem, who represents the Karl Burke team.

The four-year-old may have finished down the field at the Saudi Cup meeting last month, but Burke had been quietly confident.

“He’s shipped over really well and it’s only been three weeks since he’s been in Saudi, where things didn’t pan out for him. We had a wide draw and luckily we had a man like Ryan Moore on him that day,” he said.

“He won his Group 2 (Prix Chaudenay at Longchamp) in October and then we ran him back in France (in the Group 1 Prix Royal-Oak) at the Arc meeting.

“We were always a little bit on the back foot coming into Saudi, so the easy run was probably a benefit for him. This is as far as he wants to go I’d think, but it will be a fast-run race and he’s got a good draw for a change.”

Race 3:

Dubai Gold Cup

Turf: 3,200 metres

Purse $1,000,000

KT Picks


Ssikany marked himself out as a leading contender with a cozy success in the Nad Al Sheba Trophy last month.

Dark Horse

Passion And Glory

Christophe Soumillon has won this three times and rides the recent Bahrain scorer who is in the form of his life.


Charlie Appleby/ Siskany

“Siskany has never gone two miles before, so it’s possible the petrol gauge will be flashing towards the end, but his class should take him a long way. The one thing he has got for a stayer is a turn of foot.”

Saeed bin Suroor/Passion And Glory

“He was fifth in this race 12 months ago but I feel that he has improved since, so I am hopeful of a better result this time. He has always enjoyed racing right-handed, which is why we ran him twice in Bahrain over the winter.”

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