Shamardal on trial for Kentucky Derby

One of Sheikh Mohammed's enduring unfulfilled ambitions, that of winning the Kentucky Derby, may come a powerful stride closer on Saturday when the infinitely exciting Shamardal, last year's champion European juvenile, goes on trial for Churchill Downs in the UAE version of the Classic at Nad Al Sheba.

One of Sheikh Mohammed's enduring unfulfilled ambitions, that of winning the Kentucky Derby, may come a powerful stride closer on Saturday when the infinitely exciting Shamardal, last year's champion European juvenile, goes on trial for Churchill Downs in the UAE version of the Classic at Nad Al Sheba.

The nine furlong contest will be the first start on a dirt surface for the unbeaten Giant's Causeway colt, whose last run, before being transferred from Mark Johnston's care to the Godolphin squad, brought victory in the Dewhurst Stakes.

Should Shamardal adapt to the underfoot conditions he will be the sixth Godolphin challenger to run for the Roses. None has yet bloomed; the first was Worldly Manner, seventh in 1999, followed by China Visit and Curule (sixth and seventh in 2000), Express Tour (eighth in 2001) and Essence Of Dubai (ninth in 2002). But Mohammed has a maxim for every occasion and is standing by the one that advises: "In defeat, be adamant."

There is another that avers: "If the vision is clear, then objectives can be achieved easily." If the famous twin towers have been obscured to date, perhaps the road towards them is clearing. "We have learnt from the horses we have taken to Kentucky before," said the Godolphin racing manager, Simon Crisford, yesterday, after 39 of the blues' best hopes for the year showed their paces and wellbeing at their Dubai winter quarters, Al Quoz stables.

"You've got to have the right horse and I think we can admit we haven't had that before. You need a horse with plenty of pace who stays the trip thoroughly. If you get that right then I believe winning the race is achievable."

In the Kentucky Derby's 130-year history, no horse from outside the Americas has won and none has come closer than the first from this side of the Atlantic to try, the Clive Brittain-trained 1986 runner-up Bold Arrangement. For Shamardal, whose sire was narrowly beaten on his first try on dirt, in the Breeders' Cup Classic, and whose dam is a sister to Dubai World Cup winner Street Cry, it is a case of so far, so good on the sand.

"Racing on it will be a whole different ball game," added Crisford, "but he has trained very well on the surface. He is an impressive horse in his faster paces but he has been a bit behind schedule so far and he is sure to come on for this run."

Shamardal is currently second favourite for the 2,000 Guineas on 30 April, run this year a week before the US showpiece. "We will be in a much stronger position after Saturday to decide whether he goes to Kentucky or to Newmarket. But he has a pedigree which suggests he will handle the surface and the stamina to go a mile and a quarter without any problem. He is a horse who has quality and class and we hope the Kentucky Derby will be a live option."

The Dubai Millennium colt Dubawi, also three from three at two, is market leader for both the Guineas and Derby, and will be joined on the Rowley Mile and at Epsom by his paternal half-brother Belenus. The mile Classic will be the first start of the year for both, after next month's Godolphin private trials. The team's 1,000 Guineas prospects are Satin Kiss, already winner twice in Dubai, and Suez.

Dubawi, who took the National Stakes in September on his most recent run, breezed seven furlongs in the sunshine yesterday with Frankie Dettori in the saddle. "I couldn't be more pleased with him," said the Italian. "No serious questions yet, but everything feels good."

An extraordinary 300 horses are due under Saeed Bin Suroor's care at the Godolphin Newmarket base this year. Of the élite older performers, Doyen has the option of starting in the Tattersalls Gold Cup and Papineau in the Yorkshire Cup but St Leger hero Rule Of Law is injured and will not be seen until later in the season. Cherry Mix runs in the Dubai Sheema Classic on Saturday but Grand Hombre, Godolphin's only Dubai World Cup contender, is only 50-50 to make the line-up after bruising a foot.

* Earth Summit, the Nigel Twiston-Davies-trained 1998 Grand National winner who also, uniquely, won the Welsh and Scottish Nationals, has been put down at the age of 17 after being diagnosed with liver cancer.

RICHARD EDMONDSON

Nap: Quatrain

(Ludlow 4.30)

NB: Fontanesi

(Wincanton 4.20)

Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
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: Telesales & Customer Service Executives - Outbound & Inbound

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
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'