YORK // Godolphin recently invested in the talent of trainer Ed Walker, in addition to the future of Lightning Moon, and we will get an idea of whether it was a wise decision when both start their careers in the royal blue at the Group 2 Duke Of York Stakes on Wednesday afternoon.
Last month the international stable purchased Lightning Moon, a huge, strapping, unbeaten four-year-old colt, who showed last season with three wins that he could be a force to be reckoned with in the top sprints.
The son of Shamardal, Godolphin’s dual French Classic winner, signed off last season with an easy win in the Group 3 Bengough Stakes in which he beat numerous older and more grizzled opponents.
Despite such a success, it is still a surprise that he is officially the highest-rated horse in a 15-runner field that houses far more experienced rivals.
Walker is one of Newmarket’s up and coming trainers, having only set up in 2010. He is one of several trainers to step out successfully from the shadow of former mentor Luca Cumani and he enjoyed 40 winners from just 243 runners last season in Britain.
In what is becoming an increasingly normal practice, Lightning Moon will remain with Walker, who is based alongside Lady Cecil at the historic Warren Place stables at the headquarters of British racing.
This week Godolphin also purchased Log Out Island, a juvenile who put in a scorching performance to win a conditions event over 1,000 metres a fortnight ago to mark him as one of the best two year olds in Europe at present.
He will remain with trainer Richard Hannon rather than being absorbed into the Godolphin fold and handed to Saeed bin Suroor or Charlie Appleby.
“Godolphin are a worldwide team and we have horses with trainers all over the world,” Godolphin’s bloodstock adviser John Ferguson said.
“We pick which horses go where on a case-by-case basis and we are all working together to help find the best horses for Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
“Lightning Moon is an unbeaten four-year-old son of Shamardal, who we think is becoming a sire of sires.
“If you look at Loup De Vega, Shamardal’s son, he has done very well at stud, and everybody at the moment is getting excited about the progeny of Casamento, another of his sons.
“Lightning Moon is a big, strong sprinter and may well stay farther than seven furlongs, but he is entered in the big sprints and we hope to have a lot of fun with him.”
Lightning Moon is one of three horses owned by UAE connections to line-up in the 1,200m sprint.
Muthmir, owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid, appears to be Lightning Moon’s main challenger after he broke the track record at Doncaster in the Portland Handicap on his final start last season.
In that run, Muthmir stumbled at the start and encountered significant traffic problems but travelled so well he finished clear of several subsequent winners. He will make his seasonal bow under regular rider Paul Hanagan.
Naadirr is owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa and will be ridden by Marco Botti’s jockey Martin Harley.
Follow us on twitter at @NatSportUAE