Godolphin Review of 2015
Two landmark days on the racecourse stood out as highlights for Godolphin in a highly successful 2015, but the most significant development was an announcement in the past week that His Highness Sheikh Mohammed's stable is to take a new direction in the New Year.
A streamlined, re-focussed Godolphin will see John Ferguson take on the dual roles of chief executive and racing manager and emphasises an on-going ambition to win more Classics in Europe, as well as to continue to be competitive in the world's major races.
It was appropriate that both headline-making days in 2015 featured Team Godolphin's marquee horses, who are again expected to adopt a high-profile presence in 2016.
On September 5, Godolphin enjoyed one of the most successful days in its history when 13 winners worldwide were registered carrying the famous royal blue colours.
The breakdown of that success underlined the international element in Godolphin strategy: 6 winners came in the UK, 3 in Australia, 2 in Turkey, plus one apiece in the United States and Ireland.
Heading those winners was Jack Hobbs, runner-up to Golden Horn in the G1 Derby at Epsom, prior to a notable victory in the G1 Irish Derby at the Curragh.
Godolphin bought in to Jack Hobbs after he had established his Classic potential early in the season and the colt remained with John Gosden, who is one of a number of public trainers now preparing horses for Godolphin in the UK, in addition to private trainers Saeed bin Suroor and Charlie Appleby.
Gosden saddled Jack Hobbs to win the G3 September Stakes on the Polytrack surface at Kempton Park, which at the time, looked the perfect trial for the G1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. But the three-year-old did not run in Paris. Instead, he was kept in reserve for Ascot's G1 Champion Stakes, in which he finished a solid third to Fascinating Rock.
Gosden, quite rightly, reckons Jack Hobbs can race on successfully at four, even five, and continue to produce a level of high quality performances. The Coronation Cup, Ascot's King George, as well as the Arc and Breeders' Cup are logical targets in 2016.
Richard Fahey, Richard Hannon and Mark Johnston are other British-based trainers currently training Godolphin horses.
Fahey did well with Birchwood, who won Newmarket's G2 Superlative Stakes before notching third placings in the G1 National Stakes at the Curragh, Ireland and G1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf at Keeneland, USA.
Hannon's expertise guided Toormore towards victory in Goodwood's G2 Lennox Stakes, the G2 International Topkapi Trophy at Velifendi, Turkey and third in the G1 Prix de la Foret at Longchamp, while Johnston enjoyed Royal Ascot success with Buratino, in the G2 Coventry Stakes.
There are high hopes in the coming season for Buratino, a genuine fast ground horse, and also for another Johnston-trained star in G1 Cheveley Park Stakes winner Lumiere, who carries the colours of the Crown Prince of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed.
The Crown Prince also enjoyed great success earlier in the year at Meydan when Prince Bishop capped a magnificent career on the racecourse by landing the $10m G1 Dubai World Cup, the world's richest horse race.
The Saeed bin Suroor-trained Prince Bishop, who was registering his 11th win, beat California Chrome, a Kentucky Derby winner, and the in-form Lea. He was retired soon after the big race, and Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed donated the $6m first prize to the Dubai Autism Center, a local charity.
Saeed bin Suroor, who has sent out the winners of virtually every major race in Britain and Dubai, has much to look forward to with his usual squad of quality horses, headed by Racing History, who finished a great fourth in the G1 Champion Stakes at Ascot in October.
Saeed trained the talented filly Local Time to win both the UAE 1,000 Guineas and the UAE Oaks but she ran below par when 10th in the G1 1,000 Guineas in May at Newmarket in the UK. She was to recapture form in September when taking the G3 International Istanbul Trophy at Valiefendi, Turkey. It was her seventh victory from 12 starts.
Charlie Appleby will be aiming to get Emotionless, who stormed home in the G2 Champagne Stakes at Doncaster in September, back on the racecourse before the G1 2,000 Guineas. The colt had bone chips removed from his knee after his final run of the season.
Andre Fabre has been Godolphin's trainer in France for many years, and outstanding success again came the way of his Chantilly stable in 2015.
For Godolphin, Fabre's greatest triumph was his handling of Territories, who developed into a fine racehorse. He won the G1 Prix Jean Prat at Chantilly, shortly after his second to Gleneagles in the G1 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket.
The trainer was also responsible for the smart two-year-old Ultra, who remained unbeaten after three starts when just beating another Godolphin colt Cymric by a short neck in the G1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Longchamp. The Manduro colt has a bright future.
In the United States, Kiaran McLaughlin kept the royal blue flag flying with a series of top class wins, and his key horse, Frosted, did Godolphin proud with his second in the G1 Belmont Stakes and third in the G1 Travers Stakes. The grey colt is now being aimed at the G1 Dubai World Cup in March.
In Australia, John O'Shea enjoyed his finest day of the season when sending out 5 winners at Randwick on October 3, which included Magic Hurricane in the G1 Metropolitan Handicap, as well as budding star Exosphere, top class filly Ambience, smart two-year-old Calliope, and one-time Victoria Derby runner-up Complacent.
Godolphin is a worldwide brand which aims to be more active than ever on the global racing scene in 2016.