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Desert Fire ensures G2 Al Rashidiya streak continues


Desert Fire maintained Godolphin’s stranglehold on the G2 Al Rashidiya as he decisively beat Royal Fleet and Art Du Val in one of the feature races on week two of the Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan, UAE, on Friday, 21 January.

Horses in the royal blue silks had captured the nine-furlong turf highlight in each of the previous five years, with G1 winners Benbatl, Dream Castle and Barney Roy featuring among the recent roll of honour.

Highland Avenue built up a significant early advantage over the field, with Desert Fire settling in in third under Hector Crouch.

Desert Fire moved up to second turning into the straight and stayed on powerfully to reel in Highland Avenue entering the final quarter-mile.

The Saeed bin Suroor-trained seven-year-old soon opened up daylight over his 10 rivals and galloped out well to score by two and a quarter lengths over Royal Fleet, who edged out Art Du Val for second.

Saeed bin Suroor said: “Desert Fire has improved a lot physically with age – he’s seven now, so he is an old man! He always runs well when he is fresh and won nicely on his first start here a few years ago. He looks better than ever this year and I am happy for Hector Crouch to get his first G2 win.

“Hector is a smart jockey, who is always doing good, and I give him rides in England as well. I am always happy with him and think he will have a good future. He hit the front early on Desert Fire but it suited the horse and he kept going until the end. I think we will take Desert Fire to the G2 Singspiel Stakes next.”

Hector Crouch said: “That’s the biggest win of my career and it’s an amazing feeling. I am very thankful to Saeed and all the team for giving me the chance. I am delighted for Desert Fire, who has been around for a good number of years here and deserved a big one.

“Desert Fire quickened like he hasn’t before and that was the best he has ever felt. It seems funny as he is seven now, but hopefully there is more to come.”