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Nations Pride delights on return in G3 Dubai Millennium Stakes


Nations Pride booked his Dubai World Cup Night ticket as he provided Godolphin with a ninth victory in the G3 Dubai Millennium Stakes at Meydan, UAE, on Friday, 17 February.

Last season’s G1 Saratoga Derby victor was making his four-year-old return in the 10-furlong turf feature and overcame a slightly sluggish start to dispute third alongside Desert Fire as Ursa Minor and Aeonian set slow early fractions.

Desert Fire moved up to join Aeonian in front half a mile from home, with Ottoman Fleet also taking slightly closer order to race alongside Nations Pride behind the leading duo.

Nations Pride was switched out by William Buick at the top of the straight and the Teofilo colt moved up with Ottoman Fleet to press Desert Fire for the lead over a furlong and a half out.

The Charlie Appleby-trained duo looked set to contest the finish as Desert Fire soon gave way, with Nations Pride asserting entering the final furlong before quickening clear.

Zagrey caught Ottoman Fleet near the line to get up for second, a length and a quarter behind the impressive winner.

Charlie Appleby said: “They did not go a great gallop and William said Nations Pride was a little tardy from the gate. The last thing he wanted to do was set him alight, so he took his medicine and sat where he was.

“We said before the race that hopefully class would prevail and, once they turned in and started to go through the gears, most of them were stuttering slightly while Nations Pride showed his true class and colours.

“We will let the dust settle as we have Super Saturday to get through first. Rebel’s Romance will hopefully make his reappearance in the City Of Gold to give him his prep towards the Dubai Sheema Classic. Then we will have two or three runners for the Jebel Hatta in Master Of The Seas, Valiant Prince and probably Ottoman Fleet, who we might add some headgear to.

“In doing so, we will probably go straight into World Cup Night with Nations Pride and will sit on the fence until after Super Saturday to see how the cards fall from there. Immediately, you would say ‘let’s have a crack at the Dubai Turf’ as they will go a strong gallop over the nine furlongs and that should suit him, as he has the class and gears to go through it.”

William Buick said: “Nations Pride was a class horse last year as a three-year-old and did nothing wrong. After coming back from Epsom, he went to America and did well all season.

“It is great to get him back and this was a perfect prep run for him. He is going to go on to better things than this.

“They went very slow. Tactically, it looked like it was going to be quite a messy race and so it proved. I was happy with where he was and he picked up very well. His class prevailed in the end.”