Godolphin close the gap
The Dubai outfit enjoys a successful Royal Ascot but still work to do to knock big rivals Coolmore off their perch
But Caravaggio’s victory in the Commonwealth Cup over Godolphin’s Harry Angel and Blue Point showed there is still much to be done.
Just after Godolphin’s Barney Roy won the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot on Tuesday, Coolmore’s John Magnier crossed over the winner’s enclosure and congratulated Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai.
Whatever the two men said to each other, there were smiles, and after the 30 races at Royal Ascot last week the two men have a lot to be satisfied with. Godolphin came mightily close to breaking the grip Coolmore have on the world’s premier international race meeting. Coolmore’s six wins, seven seconds and four thirds pipped Godolphin’s six winners, six second-place finishes and the same number of thirds. Coolmore were crowned the leading owner, but their retained trainer in Aidan O’Brien also topped the charts. Ryan Moore, the jockey who rides largely for the triumvirate of John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor, also ruled the roost.
New Godolphin group chief executive Joe Osborne has a lot to consider. Imagine what Godolphin might achieve at this meeting in 12 months with no controversy beforehand? Osborne was previously the managing director of Kildangan Stud, Godolphin’s breeding outpost in Ireland, so it will be alarming for him to note that of the sires who produced winners across the 30 races Coolmore’s Scat Daddy led the way with four winners.
Drill down a bit further and it becomes clear exactly how hard it will be to knock Coolmore off their perch.
Coolmore flew back to Ireland on Saturday night, having run just 36 horses trained by O’Brien.
Of those, only four ran in handicaps. In contrast, Godolphin’s myriad trainers combined to send out 51 runner and 21 of those were in handicaps.
Where two weeks ago internal divisions in the Godolphin camp opened up a fissure that forced former chief executive John Ferguson out, O’Brien welcomed his title by highlighting the unity at his Ballydoyle stables.
“We always hope to do well at Royal Ascot and we always try and have the horses ready for this meeting but we don’t really expect anything really. Credit must go to all the team who do such a great job at home; it’s a big team effort.” Osborne has told this newspaper that he is already looking to get every person in his organisation pulling in the same direction, and it was a mantra that every Godolphin trainer and jockey repeated last week each time they made it in to the winner’s enclosure.
Caravaggio’s victory in the Commonwealth Cup over Godolphin’s Harry Angel and Blue Point showed there is still much to be done.
Coolmore got their tactics spot on during the race of the meeting on Friday, as they have done all season.
In contrast, Blue Point and Harry Angel did nothing to assist each other to gain a mutual advantage against a common opponent. Co-ordinating such an enormous organisation as Godolphin without a racing manager will be difficult, and it is a situation that Osborne will have to solve with some finality.
Godolphin’s three best achievements at this year’s Royal Ascot were the impressive victories of Ribchester and Barney Roy on Tuesday, and Atty Persse providing his jockey Kieran Shoemark and his popular sire Frankel with their first Royal Ascot winner in the King George V Handicap. What might prove to be the most significant success, however, was Benbatl’s Hampton Court victory. Bin Suroor’s grin was stretched across the winner’s enclosure, and with his juveniles ready to run for the first time this season next month there is a real feeling within his Newmarket stables that Godolphin are ready shift up a gear. “We need more forward horses and more quality,” he said. “Mine is the main stable, the original stable, and people want to see us do well. We have a good reputation worldwide. Now we are looking to the future. If it is not this year, it will be the year coming. I am very positive.”
Caravaggio’s victory in the Commonwealth Cup over Godolphin’s Harry Angel and Blue Point showed there is still much to be done
James Doyle and Barney Roy win the St James’s Palace Stakes on the opening day of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 20.