Godolphin Ready for Sydney Cup
Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby has warned Australian race fans not to underestimate his two stayers Penglai Pavilion and Polarisation, who are set to line up in the G1 Sydney Cup at Randwick on April 8, the second day of The Championships.
The pair touched down in Australia today, accompanied by stablemate Gold Trail, who is being aimed at the Mornington Cup on March 25. They will spend just under three weeks in quarantine at Canterbury racecourse, Sydney.
Assistant trainer James Ferguson, who has travelled over with the horses, confirmed the horses have arrived in good order from Dubai.
“They touched down at Sydney Airport around lunchtime today and arrived at Canterbury Racecourse just after 2pm. They had a quick walk around the trotting ring before being given the all clear by the vets,” Ferguson said.
“All three will stretch their legs tomorrow morning and will gradually build into fast work in the coming days.”
“I couldn’t be happier with the way they have travelled and it’s great to be back in Australia for the carnival.”
From an Australian perspective, the fact that Penglai Pavilion has not raced since October and Polarisation since September is generally perceived as a negative.
But Appleby, who sent out four winners at the Melbourne Spring Carnival, says there are no grounds for thinking his horses will lack for fitness, even first-up over 3,200m after five and six months lay-off.
Speaking from Newmarket, Appleby said: “I’d like to think on the back of last year that there would not be much concern about these horses being ready for their races.
“When Penglai Pavilion won at Newmarket over two miles, two furlongs (3,600m) in the Cesarewitch Trial last September, he hadn’t run for just on three months then, either. But he is a horse, who has been in Dubai and we’ve got some conditioning work into him. So once we get him to Sydney and get some more into him, he’ll be fine.
“He’s a clean-winded horse, so getting him there for the day will not be a problem at all,” he added.
Both horses have been jumping in the UK, a pursuit that does not carry the unfortunate stigma that it does in Australia.
Appleby said: “For me, our European horses coming down to Australia with the experience of jumping is a major plus. The typical race day in Australia is completely different to the race day we have in Europe.
“Three hours before a race in Australia, a horse is tethered up. We never have to do that in the UK, so you need to have a horse that has the right mind-set for it, and those jumping horses are hardened horses, who have done the travelling.
“Confronting eight flights of hurdles also puts manners on them and teaches them a bit more about life. For me it is a positive. I would rather go down to Australia with a horse with that experience behind him than not.
“Penglai Pavilion turned up and ran in a Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and you wouldn’t get a better crowd experience than that. I’m just more happy that he’s older and has got that jumping experience, as well,” he added.
“They will also benefit from being in Dubai and shipping down from there. It won’t be such a transition as regards temperature, and only 14 hours instead of 22 hours flying time – we are hoping this will make it easier for them,” he said.
Gold Trail, a recent winner at Meydan, has gone down to Australia the fittest of the three. “He will have a piece of work a week out from the Mornington Cup, and the other pair will have a couple of weeks on top to build up into their work and then have a couple of strong gallops,” Appleby said.