Racing: Godolphin begin campaign with Kentucky the target

It is the inclination at this freezing time of the year for those in racing to feel sorry for themselves. Yet before we ponder the dearth of domestic turf action and the domestic burst pipes, we must think of others, such as Simon Crisford, Godolphin's racing manager.

It was Crisford's lot yesterday that he had to supervise, in the 80 degrees temperature of Dubai, the splashing of Godolphin horses through a swimming pool at the Al Quoz stables of Sheikh Mohammed. And it's supposed to be a dog's life.

The Godolphin racing machine resumes after the shortest of hibernations tomorrow, when Divine Task becomes their first runner of 2003 in The President Cup at Abu Dhabi. He is a symbolic horse in a symbolic year for Godolphin, their 10th since the supposedly madcap escapade kicked off in 1994 with the exploits of Balanchine.

Hilal Ibrahim was the nominal trainer in those days, but the results started as they meant to go on. Balanchine won the Oaks and the Irish Derby and Godolphin had arrived. Now the Dubaian team stands on the threshold of a remarkable statistic. After five more Group or Grade One successes they will have recorded a century of victories at the highest level.

It is a remarkable record, as it should be considering the colossal fortune Sheikh Mohammed has sunk into the project. Godolphin is a world-class enterprise established at a world-class cost and the Sheikh's belief that the stable spreads a message of his nation's excellence around the globe will be truly tested only after he has gone.

A part of Godolphin's evolution has been a drift from European competition. "Sunday is the start of the roadshow for us, a show that is increasingly international," Crisford says. "As Sheikh Mohammed pointed out in his Gimcrack speech, that means a knock-on effect on our European campaign. Our ammunition is increasingly spread around the globe, which dilutes our European stable.

"We are a Dubai-based company spends summer in Newmarket because the climate here doesn't lend itself to training horses. Champion trainer or champion owner in England was the No1 goal 10 years ago. It isn't any more." Sheikh Mohammed has been there, done that, got the dish-dash.

The No1 goal these days is the Kentucky Derby in May. This has been characterised as the Sheikh's Ahab quest for satisfaction and certainly he has already spent wildly on the trail of the Run For The Roses.

By the end of next week Saeed Bin Suroor, Godolphin's trainer, will have sieved the Churchill Downs pretenders from the chaff at Al Quoz. Last year there were 17 entries at this stage. There will be another block booking and final preparation in the UAE Derby on 29 March, Dubai World Cup night. In the United States, no Derby horse preps over the full distance of 1m 2f, which is the Emirates' Derby trip. When told of the arrangement, Bob Baffert, America's leading trainer, referred to it as "pretty stupid".

However, there will be no strategic change from Godolphin. "We won't do things any differently this year," Crisford says.

The same attitude prevails, more rewardingly, in Godolphin's policy of keeping a battery of older horses in training. Marienbard and Kazzia, the standard bearers last year, have gone, but Grandera is still at his post and new old blood renews the system, including Dubai Destination, Rock Of Gibraltar's conqueror as a juvenile.

There are also thoughts on the first major checkpoint of the season, the Dubai World Cup. "Sulamani and Moon Ballad may come into the picture for that," Crisford says. "Sulamani is in light training and it remains to be seen if he can be a dirt horse, but he's building up nicely. His pedigree leads you towards turf, but, sometimes, very good horses adapt to sand."

Frankie Dettori will again become an active part of Godolphin personnel in February, when he will begin two months of building a rapport with the team's best horses.

A second considerable figure will disappear at the end of the year when David Loder terminates his appointment as ringmaster to Godolphin's juveniles in Europe. The matter of filling his job has yet to be decided.

"The two-year-olds can either filter into the system with the Sheikh's other trainers or he may choose a specific trainer to do the job," Crisford says. "There is no rush."

Otherwise the charge is on, starting with Divine Task tomorrow and five Group One victories as swiftly as possible.

Voices
Homeless Veterans charity auction: Cook with Angela Hartnett and Neil Borthwick at Merchants Tavern
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm tomorrow
Arts and Entertainment
J Jefferson Farjeon at home in 1953
booksBooksellers say readers are turning away from modern thrillers and back to golden age of crime writing
Sport
Amir Khan is engaged in a broader battle than attempting to win a fight with Floyd Mayweather
boxing Exclusive: Amir Khan reveals plans to travel to Pakistan
News
Stacey Dooley was the only woman to be nominated in last month’s Grierson awards
mediaClare Balding and Davina McCall among those overlooked for Grierson awards
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Voices
Joseph Kynaston Reeves arguing with Russell Brand outside the RBS’s London offices on Friday
voicesDJ Taylor: The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a worker's rant to Russell Brand
News
Twitchers see things differently, depending on their gender
scienceNew study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Caroline Flack became the tenth winner of Strictly Come Dancing
tvReview: 'Absolutely phenomenal' Xtra Factor presenter wins Strictly Come Dancing final
Life and Style
A still from the 1939 film version of Margaret Mitchell's 'Gone with the Wind'
life
News
Xander van der Burgt, at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew
scienceA Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
Arts and Entertainment
British actor Idris Elba is also a DJ and rapper who played Ibiza last summer
film
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'
Marian Keyes: The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment

Marian Keyes

The author on her pre-approved Christmas, true love's parking implications and living in the moment
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef creates an Italian-inspired fish feast for Christmas Eve

Bill Granger's Christmas Eve fish feast

Bill's Italian friends introduced him to the Roman Catholic custom of a lavish fish supper on Christmas Eve. Here, he gives the tradition his own spin…
Liverpool vs Arsenal: Brendan Rodgers is fighting for his reputation

Rodgers fights for his reputation

Liverpool manager tries to stay on his feet despite waves of criticism
Amir Khan: 'The Taliban can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'

Amir Khan attacks the Taliban

'They can threaten me but I must speak out... innocent kids, killed over nothing. It’s sick in the mind'
Michael Calvin: Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Sepp Blatter is my man of the year in sport. Bring on 2015, quick