Zakouski pounces late in G2 Zabeel Mile clean sweep
Improving four-year-old Zakouski flew home to collar Mythical Magic in the shadow of the post in an exhilarating finish to the G2 Zabeel Mile, with close third Dream Castle completing a 1-2-3 for Godolphin in the turf highlight at Meydan, UAE, on Thursday, 20 February.
Last year’s winner Mythical Magic (William Buick) raced in second behind Salute The Soldier for much of the race, with Dream Castle (Christophe Soumillon) settling in third, one place ahead of Zakouski (James Doyle).
Mythical Magic loomed up to challenge for the lead passing the two-furlong marker and the Charlie Appleby-trained five-year-old battled gamely to hit the front with less than half a furlong to race following a sustained duel with Salute The Soldier.
Zakouski, who was one of the first horses off the bridle turning in, ran on strongly between horses inside the final furlong, heading his stable-companion near the line for a neck verdict. Dream Castle, representing Saeed bin Suroor, also finished well to snatch third, a further neck behind Mythical Magic.
Charlie Appleby said: “I had to sit on the fence slightly with Zakouski tonight because, as we know, Mythical Magic has been there and done it. Mythical Magic has solid form and, on home evidence, is the better work horse.
“James has given Zakouski a great ride. They have probably got racing far enough out there – it helped that he came late and turned up on the scene at the right time.
“Zakouski beat a good horse [dual G2 winner Headman] when he broke his maiden at Kempton and then we went and ran him in the G3 Craven Stakes. He has always shown us a bit of ability.
“Both him and Mythical Magic have run well, and I am delighted with the result. We will get them back, regroup and then look again.” James Doyle said: “Zakouski’s inexperience showed a little early on. I was down on the rail and he was feeling the loose ground. It was not until the last half-furlong that he really chimed in and let down well.
“They got battling in front which gave me plenty of time to get going. He hit the line well and will hopefully have a nice campaign, wherever we go from here. We will see what Charlie wants to do, but he may be one to take back to the UK and see what he can do.
“We were talking about whether or not he would get further. He is not a slow horse by any means, not that it would stop you going up in trip. I just think today his inexperience told against battle-hardened horses.
“I think he will take a big step forward from this and, although I am not saying he won’t get another couple of furlongs, I probably see him more as a miler.”