No flying dismount, just red-eye flights. Rider Kerrin McEvoy came in from Australia, trainer Saeed bin Suroor and racing manager Simon Crisford overnight from the States. And the long-haul convergence of the Godolphin team at chilly, grey Doncaster from points south and west was worth it as Ibn Khaldun took off and won the Racing Post Trophy.
It was an impressive performance by all, not least the equine part of the equation. The straight mile at Town Moor is a tough test for a two-year-old, not for the faint-hearted, and Ibn Khaldun was the only one of 12 runners to travel with ease throughout as River Proud set a fierce gallop as the point of the arrow down the centre of the track.
His nearest pursuer, City Leader, took over in the lead two furlongs from home, but had no answer at all to Ibn Khaldun's lightning change of gear. The11-4 favourite wavered babyishlyas he hit the front, but as soon as McEvoy reminded him of his job he quickened away to take the Group One prize by three lengths with his ears pricked.
It was the sharply progressive colt's fourth victory in a row, after a maiden, a nursery and a Group Three. "That's got rid of the jet lag," said the delighted jockey, summoned from his nativecountry to his adopted one to deputise for Frankie Dettori, who was on Breeders' Cup duty in New Jersey last night. "He was able to gallop at a nice even tempo and he has obviously improved with every run."
Three of the previous six winners of the Racing Post Trophy, the last top-levelhurrah of the domestic Flat season, have gone on to winthe Derby the following year: High Chaparral, Motivator and this year's hero, Authorized.
But Newmarket, not Epsom, is the first Classic venue of choice for Ibn Khaldun, the son of the two top-class milers Dubai Destination and Gossamer. The chestnut, named after a famed Arab scientist of ancienttimes, is as short as 8-1 insome bookmakers' lists for the 2,000 Guineas.
"We seem to have read him wrong so far," said Crisford, "in that he's done so much better than we thought he would, working his way up through the ranks. But he seems to us to be a Guineas type rather than a typical winner of a Racing Post Trophy. They tend to be stayers, as the record of the race suggests.
"He has that tremendous ability to quicken. He's not the biggest in the world but he's very athletic. And his temperament is so good; he didn't have a bead of sweat on him today."