There is no doubting the domination of the Ballydoyle operation in recent times, but this season has certainly been about the rise of Godolphin. The leading operation, led by master trainer Charlie Appleby out of his Moulton Paddocks stable in Newmarket, has provided the owners with a number of key successes. He was set the ominous task of achieving both a Derby and Melbourne Cup success and he’s half way there. Could he land the forthcoming Melbourne Cup with market leader Cross Counter? The latest racing odds make the horse the joint 12/1 favourite. His credentials are there for all to see as he gets in off a nice racing weight, so must have a major chance of landing Australia’s most prestigious race. So, which horses have landed some key successes for the team this season?
Masar’s breakthrough victory in the Epsom Derby started a memorable year for Godolphin. Unfortunately, he has yet to make the racecourse again due to a leg injury, but his owner Sheikh Mohammed would like him to run at four so a return next year is likely. How good could Masar be? It is difficult to say, but his defeat of the odds on favourite, Saxon Warrior in the Derby, was a high class performance. Even more so was the defeat of the now horse of the year, Roaring Lion. This was a big step for Godolphin as they had struggled to find some of those top Group 1 performers in recent times. Could we now be seeing them challenge Aiden O’Brien’s Ballydoyle operation for years to come?
The big winner for the Godolphin operation at Royal Ascot was Blue Point. The four year old, out of Shamardal, is rather inconsistent, but on his day is a very high class sprinter. His King’s Stand performance at the Royal meeting was his career best in which he posted an RPR of 123. In the process he beat speedster Battaash: under William Buick, Battaash broke well and looked to make all the running. He appeared to have kicked clear inside the final furlong before Blue Point took it up well inside the final furlong, winning fairly comfortably in the end having stayed on powerfully up the testing Ascot finish.
This victory was the sixth of the horse’s career but he has now followed this up with two defeats, running to near 15 pounds below that success on both starts. What could be next for the talented sprinter?
The final horse to make the list is Wild Illusion, who has played a key role in the success of the team this season. The three year old filly is out of Dubawi so is bred in the purple, so big things would have been expected from her racing career. She has now won three of her seven starts to date and is improving with each run. She ended last season with a victory on Arc weekend in the Prix Marcel Boussac. She will again be heading over to France this weekend to contest the Prix de ’l Opera and is the favourite to win the race.
Wild Illusion ran second in both the Investec Oaks and Ribblesdale Stakes before being sent to her most recent contest in the Qatar Nassau stakes at Goodwood. She was sent off a general 4/1 but posted her lifetime best RPR of 116. Under Buick she made all, strongly asserting inside the final furlong, to win by two lengths from the talented Urban Fox.