As 2017 draws to a close and the flat racing calendar takes a brief pause, there is time to reflect on the past 12 months, and what a year it has been for Godolphin.
The royal blue silks were carried to victory in no fewer than 18 contests at G1 level – equalling the best-ever haul in a single year (first attained back in 1999) and the list of outstanding winners is a truly international one, perfectly reflecting the stable’s global ambitions.
Godolphin’s first G1 winner came in March, appropriately on Dubai World Cup night, as Jack Hobbs (sired by late Darley stallion Halling) successfully took on a high-class field to run out the impressive winner of the Dubai Sheema Classic under William Buick.
Just a week later and now in Australia, another seasoned campaigner – this time It’s Somewhat – completed the middle leg of a Group-winning hattrick with a trailblazing victory in the Doncaster Mile at Randwick.
Also in April, Dickinson (a daughter of Medaglia d’Oro) won her G1 in thrilling fashion at Keeneland, sweeping past multiple G1 winner Lady Eli in the dying strides to take the Jenny Wiley, contributing in no small way to Godolphin gaining the Leading Owner title for the Spring Meet.
Back in the southern hemisphere, Polarisation won the Sydney Cup not once, but twice after the first running of the contest was declared void. Anyone who doubted the result first time around was soon set straight as Charlie Appleby’s charge put up another gutsy performance to deny top weight Who Shot Thebarman close to home.
There was a trio of top-flight winners for Godolphin in May, kicked off by Cloth Of Stars, who gained a well-deserved G1 victory in the Prix Ganay at Saint-Cloud. He would go on to find only Enable too good in the Arc and should be an exciting horse to follow into 2018.
Also in France, Dubawi filly Sobetsu became one of an astounding eight G1 winners in 2017 for her outstanding sire, taking the Prix Saint-Alary at Saint-Cloud by three lengths. Meanwhile in the UK, Iffraaj’s star miler Ribchester kicked off his European campaign in sensational style with a three-and-three-quarter-length romp in the Lockinge.
Ribchester would be the star of the show again the following month, as on a sweltering opening day of Royal Ascot, the blue Godolphin silks scorched home in no fewer than three of the feature contests of the day. Ribchester kicked off the remarkable treble in the Queen Anne, breaking the track record in the process. Barney Roy then followed suit, smashing the old course record by over a second when posting a thrilling win in the St James’s Palace. A superb day for the team was rounded off by talented juvenile colt Sound And Silence (Exceed And Excel), who just beat stablemate Roussel to take the Listed Windsor Castle Stakes.
This year’s Royal Ascot equalled the best ever for Godolphin, with six winners and provided the stable with their highest-ever prize money total.
There was another G1 win for the team in June, as Lonhro’s son Impending flew home at Doomben, Australia to land the Stradbroke Handicap.
Fast forward to July and it was Thunder Snow’s turn to shine again as he recorded a second G1 victory in France, cruising home in the Prix Jean Prat. Trained by Saeed bin Suroor, Thunder Snow won the G1 Criterium International at two, before landing both the UAE Guineas and UAE Derby during a successful campaign in Dubai.
July also saw James Cummings commence his role as Godolphin’s head trainer in Australia and he made the perfect start as his first runner in the blue silks duly won. It was a record season for the team Down Under, as they notched 224 wins and five G1 wins in total.
The Darley July Cup is one of the centrepieces of summer racing in the UK and comes at the end of a busy week that sees the European Darley stallions on parade at Dalham Hall Stud, sales at Tattersalls and three days of superb racing at Newmarket.
Harry Angel had been considered something special for some time by his trainer Clive Cox and the faith in him was rewarded in tremendous fashion as he powered clear inside the final furlong to win the fourth leg of the British Champions’ Series Sprint category, marking His Highness Sheikh Mohammed’s birthday in very fitting style.
Harry Angel confirmed his position as Europe’s leading sprinter a month later, leading all the way to win the Sprint Cup at Haydock by no less than four lengths. ‘Harry’ would go on to win the prestigious Cartier Sprinter Award and the gong for Outstanding Sprinter at the Racehorse Owners’ Association (ROA) Awards at the end of the year.
Just a day after Harry Angel’s second win at the highest level, Ribchester added his fourth G1 victory, winning the Prix du Moulin in commanding fashion. Ribchester was subsequently named Outstanding Miler at the ROA Awards and has now been retired to stand on the Darley stallion roster at Kildangan Stud in Ireland, where he is already proving extremely popular with breeders.
There is always a huge buzz around the Arc, however G1 success for Godolphin started Down Under that weekend when Alizee came from last to first in the Flight Stakes at Randwick. Her victory not only provided James Cummings with his first top-flight win (having joined Godolphin three months earlier), but also became the first winner at the highest level for her sire, Darley stallion Sepoy.
It was the fillies to the fore once again on Sunday, when Wild Illusion (Dubawi) gave her sire and trainer Charlie Appleby their second straight winner of the Prix Marcel Boussac at Chantilly.
The yard’s previous winner, Wuheida, had missed the early part of her campaign following a setback but having performed with credit in G1 contests throughout the late summer and early autumn, was back to her brilliant best at the Breeders’ Cup meeting at Del Mar, given the perfect ride by William Buick to take the Filly & Mare Turf.
On another outstanding day for Godolphin, the Andre Fabre-trained Talismanic (Medaglia d’Oro) followed up later on the card, winning the Breeders’ Cup Turf in record time.
In addition to equalling their best-ever haul of G1 winners in 2017, Godolphin were also named British Champion Owner once again on Champions Day, while Charlie Appleby was crowned International Trainer of the Year for the second consecutive year at the Horserace Writers and Photographers Awards in London earlier this month.
Several of the horses led into the winner’s enclosure following their G1 victories in 2017 are set to stay in training next year, and with plenty more exciting prospects coming through the ranks, hopes at Godolphin are high that 2018 will provide more highlights still for the boys in blue.