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Divine Image gets up late in G3 UAE Oaks


Improving three-year-old filly Divine Image wore down another Godolphin runner Swift Rose close home as they fought out a thrilling finish to the extended nine-furlong G3 UAE Oaks on dirt at Meydan, UAE, on Thursday, 21 February.

She broke better than in the mile Listed UAE 1,000 Guineas on Thursday, 31 January, when she finished second after forfeiting several lengths at the start.

Divine Image, trained by Charlie Appleby and ridden by William Buick, chased the leaders, a bit keenly initially, but was soon covered up as a close fifth of the 11 runners.

Swift Rose (Saeed bin Suroor/Hayley Turner) was well away, led on the inside and made a bold bid for home, opening up plenty of daylight over her rivals in the home straight.

Divine Image, despite William Buick losing his whip, was switched outside coming into the straight and ran on well to make up plenty of ground. She hit the front in the shadow of the post for a neck victory in 2m 1.76s, with the Godolphin duo coming home three and a half lengths clear of Razeena in third.

Charlie Appleby commented, “I thought that we were under the pump turning in and that Hayley would skip away from the field having given Swift Rose a nice ride.

“Once William got Divine Image levelled out and, going into the last furlong, I knew that she would be running on strongly and she hit the line well. She is still very green.

“She is a tough filly who is learning on the job and can only improve with each run. She has always done everything so easily at home and, when she won broke her maiden at Chelmsford, she didn’t learn anything that day.

“She was very slow away in the UAE 1,000 Guineas before staying on well, but at least she broke a bit better tonight on her third start.

“The team have done a great job at home – they have stood her in the stalls and backed her out enough times to get her to relax. She definitely has the talent, we just have to make sure that it all goes in the right direction.

“I have discussed it with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed and the G2 UAE Derby (9.5f) on Dubai World Cup Night is certainly up for consideration. She will have a nice, light weight and has experience on the surface here, so it’s definitely going to be put in the melting pot. She has course and distance experience and that is vital at Meydan.

“Divine Image is not flashy in what she does, but you can’t fault the way she galloped out tonight. She has taken plenty of dirt on both occasions and seems to face it well. As soon as she gets some daylight, she stays on nicely.”

William Buick said, “She is a filly with a lot of energy and you have to go with her, rather than against her.

“It was only her third run and it is a big stage – there is a lot going on under the lights. It was a great performance tonight and I thought it was a very good performance to finish second in the UAE 1,000 Guineas.

“Divine Image was perfectly away and I asked her to get a position early. It is a short run-in to the first turn and things can happen a bit too quick – her inexperience just lit her up a little bit.

“I took her back, got her relaxed and she picked up really well when I pulled her out, which is not an easy task on this surface.

“She has a big stride and I wanted to get her out rolling. Once I pulled her out, I was always confident that I was going to get there. It had to be hands and heels because I dropped my whip!

“She is edgy but that’s her personality – she is fiery and that is probably what makes her the filly she is. You don’t want to interfere too much with them and she is very game and honest when it matters.

“She is not the finished article just yet, but is bound to improve on every level. Things have happened quick and fast for her over the last few months and we can look forward with her.

“She is a very game and honest filly. I think you would have to consider the UAE Derby over the same trip.”

Saeed bin Suroor was delighted with Swift Rose’s performance – by far her best run on her fourth start. He said, “Swift Rose is a nice filly who has run a big race.

“We will see how she comes back from this race, but could consider going for the UAE Derby.”