The step up to 1m4f and switch back to turf made little difference to Mishriff at Meydan in Dubai on Saturday as fresh off his victory in the Saudi Cup, Prince A A Faisal’s homebred star once again assumed centre stage with a brave victory under David Egan in the Group 1 Dubai Sheema Classic.
The colt’s narrow success over the brilliant Japanese mare Chrono Genesis capped an outstanding evening for his trainers John and Thady Gosden, who also saddled Lord North to win the Group 1 Dubai Turf.
Although the authoritative winner of last month’s Saudi Cup in Riyadh, Mishriff appeared to face a myriad of potential issues in his quest for a second lucrative international raid, not least the step up to 1m4f and the burden of further travel out of his home base of Newmarket. As befitted its $5 million pot, the race also attracted a deep field of international significance led by Arima Kinen winner Chrono Genesis and the Aidan O’Brien-trained Mogul, last year’s Hong Kong Vase winner who ultimately went off as the 7/4 favourite.
As such, the Sheema Classic was billed as the event of the evening and it did not disappoint. Drawn out wide, Egan was content to settle Mishriff out the back as the American raider Channel Maker cut out the early running. The Japanese pair, Chrono Genesis and Loves Only You, didn’t sit far off the action and were launched for their runs coming off the final turn. Meanwhile, Mishriff was picking off his rivals one by one down the outside and come the 300 metre mark, had ranged up to the Japanese pair, themselves in a battle with Godolphin’s Walton Street. Neither Chrono Genesis or Loves Only You would back down, however, and it was only after a thrilling battle in which the trio kicked three lengths clear that Mishriff and Egan ground down his rivals for a neck win.
Chrono Genesis ran second, a neck in front of Loves Only You. Mogul never threatened in seventh.
“What a month for Mishriff, he’s a tremendous horse,” David Egan told the Dubai Racing Channel. “I’m very lucky to be connected with such a good team. The key today was getting him relaxed – he got into a lovely rhythm and was changing legs well. I thought the last 100 yards was going to be tough but his grit got him through it.”
Ted Voute, racing manager to Prince A A Faisal, said that Mishriff is now set for a break following his international exploits.
“He’ll get a break,” he said. “It’s amazing. It was a great ride – he bided his time, tucked him in and round that last turn, started picking them off one by one. It was beautifully timed. Turf, dirt, 1m2f or 1m4f – he’s doing it all at the moment. He’s beaten proper Group 1 horses, he’s a real star.”
Owned and bred by Prince A A Faisal, Mishriff made great strides in Europe last year, notably when winning the Prix du Jockey Club and Prix Guillaume d’Ornano.
Now the winner of six races, the colt is from the first crop of Make Believe, who carried Prince Faisal’s colours to victory in the Poule d’Essai des Poulains and Prix de la Foret. A resident of Ballylinch Stud, the son of Makfi has made an excellent start to his stud career as the sire of five stakes winners out of his first crop. He stands for €15,000.
Mishriff is one of three stakes horses from as many runners bred by Prince Faisal out of the Raven’s Pass mare Contradict following the Listed winner Orbaan and Group 3-placed Momkin. The highlight of Contradict’s own racing career came when successful in a Salisbury handicap but typically for a Prince Faisal homebred, she possesses excellent connections as a daughter of Group 3 winner Acts Of Grace, herself a Bahri half-sister to Invincible Spirit, Kodiac, Massarra and Sadian. In turn, she is out of the Prince’s Prix de Diane heroine Rafha, bred by the Prince out of his foundation mare Eljazzi.
In an interview with Owner Breeder last autumn, the Prince recalled how he came to purchase mare of such influence as Eljazzi on a bid of 92,000gns as a yearling in 1982.
“Racing was always my love,” he said. “I enjoyed visiting England but I don’t like travelling so I thought that if I had a stable there, it might encourage me to come over more and enjoy it.
“Nawara was the first horse that I bred horse and not long after, I bought Eljazzi as a yearling. I was at the sales looking at yearlings and I saw this nice filly. She was very strong, particularly behind the saddle, and correct. And I thought she had an interesting pedigree. She was a half-sister to Pitcairn, a very good miler, and I liked her sire line – I thought Artaius might make a good broodmare sire.”
Eljazzi went on to win a Leicester maiden for Sir Henry Cecil before embarking on an illustrious stud career. Rafha, by Kris, was her first foal.
“Eljazzi was very good behind the saddle, she had great strength,” says Prince Faisal. “Kris didn’t even though he was lovely in front and a very good walker. Kris was also working well with mares with Djebel in their pedigrees, so I felt they could complement each other.
“At that time, Kris was doing extremely well at stud [as the British and Irish champion sire of 1985], especially as a sire of fillies, and I had this idea that he might become a good broodmare sire.
“But all Eljazzi had done was win a maiden and Kris stood for £90,000 – Lord Howard de Walden had just raised his fee. Everyone thought I was crazy.”
The resulting foal was Rafha, a filly so small that she was famously described by her trainer Sir Henry Cecil as being ’knee high to a bumble bee’.
Rafha’s influence is today felt around the world, primarily via her excellent sire sons in Invincible Spirit and Kodiac. However, it’s very appropriate that her latest star, and the richest one at that, should carry the famous maroon and grey of Prince Faisal, the mastermind behind this family.
Contradict remains in his Nawara bloodstock fold but has suffered from bad breeding luck in recent years. However, she is currently in foal to Frankel.
Easy for Lord North
Meanwhile, Dettori kept it straightforward on Lord North in the Dubai Turf, launching his charge out wide from the back to run down the Japanese raider Vin De Garde and win well by a widening three lengths.
Vin De Garde held on for second, a length ahead of the closing Felix for Marco Botti in third.
Also successful in last year’s Prince Of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot, Lord North was winning for the seventh time in 13 starts. As with various other high-profile older Gosden trainees of former years, such as Halling, the five-year-old plied his early trade in handicaps, notably when justifying favouritism to land the 2019 Cambridgeshire at Newmarket.
“He was well in with 8-10 in the Cambridgeshire, wasn’t he?” Dettori joked on the Dubai Racing Channel. “He was difficult as a young horse but when we gelded him, he turned a corner. He was the highest-rated in the race and he flew today. I followed William [Buick, on Al Suhail] as I thought he was the one to beat, and I knew this horse would stay well so I kicked early and he responded immediately. It was unbelievable.”
Lord North carries the colours of HH Sheikh Zayed bin Mohammed Racing and was bred by Godolphin out of Najoum, a winning daughter of Giant’s Causeway. In turn, she is a half-sister to Grade 1 winner Bandini and from a family incorporated into the Godolphin fold with the purchase of the stock belonging to Stonerside Stable in 2008.
There was an early British-trained winner on the card in Mark Johnston’s Subjectivist, who ran them ragged in the Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup under Joe Fanning.
Having his first run since landing the Group 1 Prix Royal-Oak last October, Subjectivist made light of the firmer conditions, skipping clear of the pack approaching the far turn for a track record-breaking near six-length success over German raider Walderbe.
“This is a first winner for us on this night for about 21 or 22 years,” a visibly satisfied Mark Johnston told the Dubai Racing Channel. “To be honest we hadn’t brought the right horses. This one, he was a Group 1 winner last year and I thought if he ran to that, then he was the horse to beat.
“There’s was a doubt about the ground – he’s won on good and heavy but he’s never run on anything faster that. I don’t think I’ve seen a turf track in better condition than this one and so going into it, I thought all the ducks were in a row and that we had a very good chance.”
Owned by Dr J. Walker, Subjectivist was bred in Britain by Mascalls Stud out of the Danehill Dancer mare Reckoning, also the dam of the 2019 St Leger runner-up Sir Ron Priestley and last year’s Rockfel Stakes third Alba Rosa. Subjectivist is one of 21 Group 1 winners by Darley’s Teofilo.
Johnston added: “We have this horse and his three-parts brother Sir Ron Priestley so we have some great ammunition to take on Stravidarius with this season.”
Extravagant Kid breaks through under Moore
Trainer Brendan Walsh maintained his perfect World Cup night record when his veteran Extravagant Kid broke through for a first Group or Graded stakes victory in the Group 1 Al Quoz Sprint. The Irish-born handler, who trains in the US, previously landed the 2019 UAE Derby with Plus Que Parfait.
In a race where the field split into two, Extravagant Kid showed a fine turn of foot to burst through on the near side under Ryan Moore and win by half a length from Godolphin’s Final Song. The Nigel Tinkled-trained Acklam Express, racing by himself on the far side, ran an excellent race to finish a neck away in third.
The Florida-bred Extravagant Kid, the best performer sired by the inexpensive Ohio-based stallion Kiss The Kid, now boasts 15 wins in 50 starts.
Zenden sprang a 40/1 surprise in the Group 1 Golden Shaheen, making all to win unchallenged under Antonio Fresu to win by three-and-a-quarter lengths.
Sadly, there was a tragic postscript to the race when the winner broke down with a fatal injury after the line.
Trained by Carlos David, Zenden was winning for the sixth time. A bargain $7,500 yearling purchase by South Legacy Stables, he was the first Group or Grade 1 winner by Fed Biz, a former WinStar Farm stallion who now stands in Canada at Highfield Stock Farm.