Golden Shaheen gets more lustre with Global Sprint Challenge

The Dubai Golden Shaheen at Meydan has been added to the Global Sprint Challenge, the 10th Group 1 contest in the series that runs over six countries.
Rocket Man, with Felix Coetzee aboard, in red, won the Dubai Golden Shaheen at Meydan Racecourse this past March.
Rocket Man, with Felix Coetzee aboard, in red, won the Dubai Golden Shaheen at Meydan Racecourse this past March.

The UAE will have a presence in the Global Sprint Challenge (GSC) for the first time next year after the Dubai Golden Shaheen at Meydan Racecourse on World Cup night was added to the worldwide series.

The Golden Shaheen, run this year on March 31, will be the 10th Group 1 contest in the series, which now features races in six countries.

Rocket Man won the race last March with Felix Coetzee aboard.

The series traditionally starts in Australia with the Lightning Stakes at Flemington racecourse in January and ends with the Hong Kong Sprint in December.

Races also take place in Japan, Singapore and in England.

"As evidenced by our Dubai World Cup Carnival and the Dubai World Cup meeting, the Dubai Racing Club is committed to the internationalisation of horse racing, and we are delighted to be a part of the Global Sprint Challenge," said Malih Lahej Al Basti, a board member of Dubai Racing Club.

"Any initiative to further advance the cause of horses from different parts of the world competing against each other is beneficial to the sport and, naturally, has our complete support.

"The Dubai Golden Shaheen has proven to be among the most international sprints having attracted horses from 14 countries throughout its short history, and being part of the Global Sprint Challenge adds further to the prestige of the Dubai World Cup meeting."

The GSC used to offer a US$1 million (Dh3.67m) bonus to any horse winning three series races in as many countries in a calendar year, but the series has made the bonus more attainable by now including races run in the horse's country of origin.

Sepoy, the brilliant Australian sprinter, could be in line for that bonus after it was revealed yesterday that the colt will be aimed at the Golden Shaheen after competing in one final race in Australia.

The three year old, owned by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, will be prepared by Peter Snowden, the current trainer, for Meydan.

Sepoy will then be transferred to Godolphin for a European campaign that is slated to take in the Golden Jubilee at Royal Ascot in June and possibly the July Cup at Newmarket.

Both races, like the Golden Shaheen, are over 1,200m.

Sepoy will be joined by Helmet, the triple Group 1 winner also owned by Sheikh Mohammed. Helmet will be aimed at the UAE Derby, over 1,900m, which also is staged on World Cup night.

"Both Sepoy and Helmet have achieved so much in Australia, and it makes sense for them to go for international honours in Dubai and Europe," said Henry Plumptre, the managing director of Darley Australia.

"Peter Snowden, who has trained them brilliantly, will oversee their preparations for Dubai, and hopefully the two horses will enjoy exciting campaigns in 2012."

Sepoy, who has won 10 of his 11 starts, could well clash in the Golden Jubilee with Black Caviar, the unbeaten Australian mare.

"The two races I have in mind for her … are the Golden Jubilee … and the July Cup," said Peter Moody, Black Caviar's trainer, after her latest win earlier this month. "She's not over-raced by our standards.

"She is just [a terrific] horse."

Published: November 30, 2011 04:00 AM


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