Dubai Turf winner Solow has ‘his best race so far’ to take Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot

Buratino then gave the new-look Godolphin a ringing endorsement when he became Mark Johnston’s first winner in the royal blue in the Coventry Stakes to also highlight Day 1 at Royal Ascot, writes Geoffrey Riddle.
Jockey Maxime Guyon riding Solow celebrates winning the Queen Anne Stakes during Day 1 of Royal Ascot 2015 at Ascot Racecourse on June 16, 2015 in Ascot, England. Christopher Lee/Getty Images
Jockey Maxime Guyon riding Solow celebrates winning the Queen Anne Stakes during Day 1 of Royal Ascot 2015 at Ascot Racecourse on June 16, 2015 in Ascot, England. Christopher Lee/Getty Images

Ascot // Everywhere you looked there was the unmistakable imprint of Dubai at Royal Ascot on Tuesday.

Solow, the impressive Dubai Turf winner, got the meeting off to a sizzling start with an imperious victory in the Queen Anne Stakes.

Buratino then gave the new-look Godolphin a ringing endorsement when he became Mark Johnston’s first winner in the royal blue in the Coventry Stakes in front of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and ruler of Dubai.

Then came the piece de resistance, when the gallant outsider Medicean Man, a horse that has spent the past three seasons competing at the Dubai World Cup Carnival, shrugged off any pre-race preconceptions with a huge run to push Goldream to a photo in the King’s Stand Stakes in a thumping finish.

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Solow’s performance was easily the classiest of the day, and the most memorable, and those watching in Dubai can get the bunting ready for March because, as a gelding, Solow is set to return to defend his Dubai Turf crown next year, and possibly for many years to come.

“That is his best race so far. He has never met such good horses. I hope he lasts,” trainer Freddy Head said. “I am not going to run in everything that comes because I want him to last. Next year will be the same: Dubai, Longchamp, Ascot.”

Last year Head was running Solow over staying distances and it was the grey’s ability to sustain a gallop for longer than his rivals that resulted in the length victory from fellow French raider Esoterique.

Maxime Guyon stalked the pace and 400 metres from the finish he was locked in a battle with Godolphin’s Night Of Thunder and James Doyle.

Guyon kept on at his mount and inside the final 200m Night Of Thunder broke to eventually finish fifth behind the fast-finishing Cougar Mountain and the tiring Toormore.

Able Friend, Hong Kong’s highest-rated horse, ran no sort of race in sixth, to the visible disappointment of jockey Joao Moreira.

Andre Fabre, trainer of Esoterique, summed up Able Friend’s run the most precisely. “Homesick,” he said.

Solow is set to head to Goodwood for the Sussex Stakes on July 29, where he will face a stern test from Gleneagles, who added the St James’s Palace Stakes later in the afternoon to wins this season in the Irish and English Guineas.

Half an hour after Solow had swept all before him, Sheikh Mohammed was in the winners’ enclosure alongside his wife, Princess Haya, John Ferguson, his bloodstock adviser, and what seemed the whole of Dubai.

Buratino had just proved to be a very smooth winner under William Buick of the Coventry Stakes, a race that Godolphin had never won.

Buratino had been transferred into the Godolphin operation after he won the Woodcote Stakes at Epsom 11 days ago, having been owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed. Sheikh Mohammed underlined Buratino was still the property of the Crown Prince.

“I love horses – I was born on a horse – I love coming to Royal Ascot to see the horses here,” the ruler of Dubai said. “Buratino is a very good horse and he’s improving. He’s my son’s horse so we will discuss with him where he wants him to go.”

The destination of Buratino’s next race may be obscure, but the Coventry Stakes has long been a nursery for next season’s Classics and the colt has surely entered the picture to next season’s English 2,000 Guineas.

Buratino’s win in Godolphin silks was just recognition for Johnston, who for over 20 years has acted as a feeder for the international stable.

Time and again he has unearthed a gem of a racehorse, only for it to leave his Middleham yard for Newmarket and Saeed bin Suroor’s stables.

Asked whether he felt any pressure at having his first Godolphin runner, Johnston said: “I’ve known Godolphin such a long time and didn’t feel it today. It’s the same people with the same owner.

“They made the decision to transfer the horse to Godolphin colours and it made no difference to me because they are so good, win or lose.”

sports@thenational.ae

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Published: June 16, 2015 04:00 AM

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