Dubai-based Godolphin saddle 5,000th winner in France
Expecting To Fly beat Cherisy by a head to give Godolphin their 5,000th race win on Thursday.
Trained by Henri-Alex Pantall and ridden by Hugo Journiac, Expecting To Fly clinched the one-mile maiden race for three-year-olds at La Teste De Buch Racecourse in the south-west of France.
It was perhaps not the most obvious venue for Godolphin to reach their landmark in, as they had 14 runners at several higher-profile courses across France, Australia, Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States. Nevertheless, the Dubai-based racing operation – founded in 1992 by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai – will have been extremely pleased with their day's racing.
Blake Spriggs rode the James Cummings-trained Coach to victory in a maiden race for two-year-olds at Newcastle Racecourse in Australia to take the royal blue silks to victory No 4,999.
Then, moments after Expecting To Fly's triumph, Charlie Appleby and William Buick combined to give Godolphin another winner as Winds Of Fire finished first at Salisbury in England.
It was a memorable night for handler Pantall, who completed a double when Carriwitchet landed the Prix Etienne Frachon Handicap at Le Lion-D'Angers under Soufiane Saadi, taking Godolphin’s tally to 5,002.
Since their inception more than a quarter century ago, Godolphin have won races in 14 countries on four continents.
In December 1992, Cutwater won a six-furlong maiden on dirt at Nad Al Sheba in Dubai to give the stable their first win. It was just the beginning.
They reached 1,000 winners in 2005 courtesy of Cherry Mix, trained by Saeed bin Suroor and ridden by Frankie Dettori, who won the Group 1 Gran Premio Del Jockey Club E Coppa d’Oro at San Siro, Italy.
If the first 1,000 winners were 13 years in the making, Godolphin's 2,000th came just seven years later when Mickael Barzalona guided Certify to a six-furlong turf maiden at Newmarket, England, in 2012.
Jockey Barzalona holds a unique place in the stable’s history, having partnered in Godolphin’s 3,000th and 4,000th triumphs. The former came aboard the Andre Fabre-trained Manatee at the Group 2 Grand Prix de Chantilly in 2015. The latter was atop Fly At Dawn, trained by Charlie Appleby, in the UAE 2,000 Guineas at Meydan Racecourse in Dubai last year.
Godolphin’s international achievements are numerous: 273 Group 1 wins, including at Yasuda Kinen in Japan and Caulfield Cup in Australia; nine Dubai World Cups; six Breeders’ Cups; and four victories at the Hong Kong International Races.
Some of these races proved memorable, too, such as Frosted's record-breaking victory in the Group 1 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park in the United States two years ago.
Another brilliant win came from Masar, ridden by Buick and trained by Appleby, who provided the royal blue silks their first Group 1 Derby at Epsom in June.