HORSES owned by Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum filled the first two places in a thrilling renewal of the US$1 million Godolphin Mile, sponsored by Etisalat after Mike de Kock-trained Soft Falling Rain collared Haatheq deep into the stretch to score by three-quarters of a length under Paul Hanagan.
Soft Falling Rain (Paul Hanagan, striped cap), produced a remarkable run in the Godolphin Mile. (Andrew Watkins).
Mike was hugely impressed after the race and said: “This was an unbelievably good win by Soft Falling Rain. It’s one of the most impressive wins I’ve seen by a horse in my life!”
He added: “I haven’t seen too many horses under pressure that far out and still find something at the finish. It just shows how good a horse he is. Turning for home I would have been happy to be second but the horse dug in and fought all the way.”
Having broken alertly, Soft Falling Rain was obliged to race wide as Red Jazz went to the front, but Capital Attraction soon advanced to take control at halfway. At that stage Paul Hanagan aboard the winner had no choice but to launch his bid on the outer, forfeiting ground as he raced widest of all into the straight.
Soft Falling Rain only eroded Haatheq’s lead inch by inch but he had built an inexorable momentum even though Hanagan was riding him hard. And while the two horses served up a compelling stretch duel there was marginally more purpose to Soft Falling Rain’s stride.
The media around Soft Falling Rain (Paul Hanagan up).
“They went so quick from the start that I had to go wider than I wanted all the way,” Hanagan related. “I wondered whether he could come forward when we reached the straight but this horse is so genuine. It was an amazing race and great thrill. It ranked with my best ever wins. Before this my best was on Mayson in the July Cup last year.”
It was a particularly noteworthy victory from the son of National Assembly, since he was the only three-year-old in the 16-runner field.
Soft Falling Rain is now unbeaten in six starts, the last three in Dubai after posting three on the bounce in South Africa . He landed the UAE 2,000 Guineas sponsored by Al Tayer Motors with great ease but had to battle hard this time.
Soft Falling Rain is now scheduled to transfer to Britain, where he will contest that country’s best sprint prizes. “I would rather drop him back in trip that step him up,” de Kock said. “He shows plenty of natural speed in his homework.”