THE stable’s devastating form at the 2011 Dubai Racing Carnival continued at Meydan on Thursday evening with four winners on the eight-race programme, including a riveting 1.50-length success by SA-bred Bold Silvano in the $US200 000 Al Maktoum Challenge (Round 2), over 1900m on the All-Weather.
Bold Silvano’s manner of victory and the fact that he enjoyed the surface would have given South African racing enthusiasts big early hopes for the Dubai World Cup on 26 March. Lizard’s Desire lost the world richest race by a whisker last year and Bold Silvano may well present the stable’s best chance ever to land the 2000m spectacular on 26 March.
Mike commented: “This was a memorable evening with our first four-timer in Dubai, and Bold Silvano was the proverbial cherry on the cake, he was really impressive. We’re very excited, because he wasn’t wound up. He has much improvement to come in the build-up to the big race. Christophe Soumillon was jubilant after the race, Bold Silvano gave him a feel he hasn’t had for a while.”
Christophe Soumillon: “Bold Silvano is the one!” The colt’s groom is ‘Shorty’.
Mike estimated in his preview that the four-year-old was about 85% ready and if one were to add another 15% in theory, Bold Silvano will be one mean machine come World Cup night. He toyed with the opposition in what was only a Group 3 race, but his rivals included Al Shemali (third in the 2010 Gr 1 Singapore Cup to Lizard’s Desire), US Grade 1 winner Gitano Hernando (beaten only two lengths in last year’s Dubai World Cup by Gloria De Campeo) and other established Group performers My Indy and Crowded House.
Bold Silvano is owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa Al Maktoum and Gill Thompson. He is by Silvano from Bold Saffron, by Al Mufti, and was bred by Dr Ashley Parker and Rose Parker at Ascot Stud.
Sheik Mohammed also owns top filly Mahbooba, who opened the stable’s account on the night, and another SA-bred, Star Empire, who landed the early double.
Mahbooba (Soumillon) won the US250,000 UAE 1000 Guineas from stablemate Reem (Pat Cosgrave), who galloped strongly over the last 400m and briefly looked as if she would beat her more favoured rival again, but when Soumillon stepped on the accelerator 300m from the line, the talented three-year-old daughter of Galileo quickly wiped out the two lengths between her and Reem and won going away.
Mahbooba (Soumillon) with Reem (Cosgrave), behind her.
Soumillon offered: “She is versatile, she showed tonight she can race handy in addition to coming from off the pace. Her form looks good for the UAE Derby, she’s the best filly around at the moment.”
Star Empire(Soumillon) was thrown in the deep end in an 2485m handicap worth $175,000, since he’d only previously been tried up to 1900m. But Mike had a good measure of pre-race confidence and the four-year-old’s fitness told over the last 150m. He chipped away gamely at the lead held by Calvados Blues and got up near the line to win.
Star Empire (nearest camera, Soumillon), about to grab Calvados Blues (Royston Ffrench).
“The pace was just right and we were travelling well behind the leader. When I asked him to go he tried hard, but itm wasn’t easy because the horse in front wasn’t stopping. But we got there and it was a good win, Mike’s horses get better with every run. It will get tougher now for Star Empire, but he will improve more.”
Bred by Sydney Muller, Farrell Ratner and Len Salzman, Star Empire is a son of Fairy King stallion Second Empire, who stands at the Lion River Stud in the Breede River Valley, from Lady Maroof, by Maroof. He was taught the ropes by Denis Drier at Summerveld and is a staunch campaigner with six wins and four places from 14 starts.
Mohammed Khaleel with Warsaw (Shea).
Mohammed Khaleel’s Warsaw has been knocking at the door recently and while he was the stable second-stringer in a 1400m handicap on turf, he proved to be a solid choice for Kevin Shea, who scored a well-deserved win with a well-timed ride on the six-year-old son of Danehill Dancer.
Warsaw came from the tail end with a flying finish, he stormed up the middle of the track to beat the hot-pot favourite, Quick Wit.
Refresh our Video Feature for Mahbooba race replay. Bold Silvano replay to follow.
Photos by Andrew Watkins, exclusive to mikedekockracing.com.