Godolphin’s Maftool following familiar footsteps in return to turf at French 2,000 Guineas

Bachir followed similar path, training at Nad Al Sheba before winning the UAE and French 2,000 Guineas

Maftool, ridden by Paul Hanagan, wins the UAE 2,000 Guineas at the Meydan Racecourse in Dubai on February 12, 2015. Pawan Singh / The National
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It is 15 years since Godolphin’s Bachir, having used Nad Al Sheba as a training ground, made his mark on the European stage, and Maftool is set on the same path at Longchamp on Sunday.

Having run three times on the Meydan dirt this winter, Maftool makes his return to turf on Sunday in the Poule d’Essai Des Poulains, which is the French 2,000 ­Guineas.

In 2000, Saeed bin Suroor saddled Bachir to win the UAE 2,000 Guineas on the dirt of Nad Al Sheba, before the colt was defeated in the UAE Derby at the hands of stablemate China Visit.

Bachir then returned to Newmarket in England, from where Bin Suroor dispatched his charge to France, where he denied 15 others to win the French classic on his return to turf.

Maftool beat Mubtaahij by a head in the UAE 2,000 Guineas but was eight lengths behind Sheikh Mohammed bin Khalifa's runner in the Derby.

Maftool’s turf form as a juvenile extended to a win in the Group 2 Somerville Tattersall Stakes at Newmarket in September before he was derailed by soft ground in the Group 1 Dubai Dewhurst Stakes on his final start in Europe.

The going at Longchamp is good to soft, and there is no further rain forecast Sunday ­afternoon.

“Maftool ran well out in Dubai and we decided to miss the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket and aim him at this race,” Bin Suroor said on the Godolphin ­website.

“He has been working well and I am looking to see a good run from him. Good ground would be ideal, but he should be fine on good to soft.”

Much like Bachir did, Maftool faces a large field, with 17 rivals also engaged in the 1,600-metre contest.

Maftool will be ridden by Dane O'Neill as, although the American-bred colt races in the Godolphin blue, he is owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid.

The Minister of Finance also runs Muhaarar, the mount of his retained rider Paul ­Hanagan.


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