It’s all about Qatar at Goodwood this week - and Frankie Dettori’s raising the state’s profile even higher than it would have been.
The £2m in prize money Qatar has ploughed into Glorious this year was already the story of the 2015 festival, the theme of the week if you like.
But Dettori - so often the Darling of the Downs earlier in his career - is riding winners for Qatari owners left, right and centre.
On day four of the festival, which was watched by a record Friday crowd for Goodwood, he notched a double to take the lead in the race to be the week’s top jockey. The crowd loved every minute of it, and so did he.
Dettori’s delight bookended the day.
Qatar’s leading horse Dubday provided the nation with its first winner in Britain when successful at the Qatar Goodwood Festival in the first race, hDettori olding off 15/8 favourite The Corsican in the Group Three Betfred Glorious Stakes.
Dubday won Qatar’s most prestigious race, the HH The Emir’s Trophy, for the second time at Doha in February and has acquitted himself well in two Listed contests in Britain this summer. He was second to Telescope at Newbury in May and was beaten a head by Gospel Choir at Newmarket on June 27.
“I am delighted Dubday has won as it is my first winner outside Qatar,” said winning-trainer Jassim Ghazali. “Dubday is a champion in Qatar and is a favourite for so many people.
“He has run two good races already in Britain, coming second both times, and it is special to win today’s race under the name of the Qatar Goodwood Festival. Winning a Group race in Britain is never easy and I am thankful my horse has been able to do it. He is a special horse.
“Well done for my country - I give this winner for all of my country and I say thank you to Sheikh Joaan for giving me the chance to come here to run horses.
“I hope that we can bring over 30 horses next year.”
Dettori, celebrating his third success of the meeting, said: “It’s the first winner for Qatar in the UK and I take my hat off to Jassim, who has done a fabulous job with this horse. I am so proud for the team, well done. It means a lot for everyone. This was the main target and it has come off.
“I thought it was going to be a bit tricky, so I angled him out wide and, in fairness, he picked up really well - he just idles a bit in front- but when he heard The Corsican coming he put his head down and ran on. He showed guts and determination and is a decent horse. He is the local strar in Qatar.
“It’s a great victory for us, with the first horse from Qatar to win a Group race in England. It’s fantastic. Qatar is sponsoring this meeting, we have had a fabulous season, and it was a big achievement to take this horse from Qatar to here and win.”
The day ended as it had begun and trainer Richard Hannon could not contain his excitement following Tashaar’s impressive length and half victory after being eased down by Dettori in the concluding Betfred Mobile Handicap over 11 furlongs.
The son of Sea The Stars is now unbeaten in two starts and was a third winner on the day for owner Al Shaqab Racing. Rhythmical stayed on to be second, with Shell Bay a length and a quarter further back in third.
“I would love to think Tashaar is a Group horse in the making,” said Hannon. “I thought he could be our Chesham horse last year but he was a bit weak and didn’t move right going into it.
“We bought him off Michyael Kinane and he has always been a lovely horse, but a work in progress. We have given him the time and are being rewarded for it now. He could be a very good horse.
“He has been fine since he won at Haydock in May. We gave him that long to run that there was no point rushing him all of a sudden. I put him in a few races at Sandown, but there were like 16 runners and I felt it would not be fair on him having only had one run.
“The owners sponsor this meeting and I wanted to show them how good he was. I felt this was the next logical step.
“I loved the way he was off the bridle for much of it like a horse that wasn’t really fussed about what is going on. He was doing it all naturally.”
Hannon has moved on to five winners for the meeting, while Dettori four, ahead of the final day. Both hold clear leads in the race to be top trainer and Racing UK top jockey at the festival.
In between there was another success for Qatar.
Francois Rohaut had a rare runner at Goodwood, but he made it count when 33/1 outsider Amy Eria won the Group Three L’Ormarins Queens Plate.
Ridden by Gregory Benoist, Amy Eria won by half a length from Osaila, who, like the winner, carried the colours of Al Shaqab Racing. Headed by Sheikh Joaan Al Thani, a member of Qatar’s ruling family, Al Shaqab is therefore closely associated with this week’s headline sponsors at the Qatar Goodwood Festival - and Amy Eria became its second winner of the day and fourth of the week.
Rohaut said: “She was due to run last week at Hannover in Germany, but she had a little problem with her foot so we decided not to go and prepare for this race. She has been in great form and did a tremendous piece of work last week so we felt very confident.
“She loves a long straight and the ground was perfect for her. Seven furlongs is ideal - she won a Listed race at Maisons Laffitte last year over the trip, and at about the same price! She could go for the [Group One] Prix Foret on Arc day, and we must try for a Group One - we won’t know whether she is good enough unless we try.
“This is my first Goodwood winner, but not my first runner - I had one here at the first running of the Shergar Cup about 25 years ago.”
Elsewhere, trainer David O’Meara was celebrating his 500th winner and first at Goodwood after 10/1 chance So Beloved ran out a decisive winner of the Betfred Mile under stable jockey Danny Tudhope (see video above).
O’Meara, who started training in 2010, said: “I think it’s my 500th winner. A good owner of ours who has been with us since the start, Michael Binns, said that our winner at Redcar the other day was 499, so he is probably right.”
So Beloved travelled well behind the leaders and quickened up smartly to beat Belgian Bill by three quarters of a length, with two and a half lengths further back to the Rectifier in third.
O’Meara added: “So Beloved has any amount ability. He showed that a couple of starts back at York when he won really well from a bad position.
“He settled well today and was given a great ride by Danny.”
Tudhope, also enjoying his first winner at the course, commented: “I was more concerned before racing, because So Beloved got himself really worked up and I thought he had boiled over going to the start. I knew there wasn’t much pace in the race - we didn’t go very quick - so it paid off to be handy.
“We had a nice position the whole way round and he is a horse with a tremendous amount of ability. I just didn’t want to get to the front too soon, he travelled so well. He is tricky and quirky but, when things fall right for him, he could definitely win a Group race somewhere.”
Down in class, but up for the race, Malabar ran out a very comfortable winner of the Group Three Bonhams Thoroughbred Stakes.
The Mick Channon-trained filly, a 6/1 shot, had run with credit in three Classic races this season - in Britain, Ireland and France - and her trainer was confident she would be a tough nut for her male rivals in this event. Under Silvestre De Sousa and wearing a first-time visor she won by three lengths and three-quarters of a length from Kook Kompany and Latharnach, the 6/4 favourite. Malabar carried the colours of Jon and Julia Aisbitt.
Channon said: “She ran a cracker in the Guineas and she’s not very big. She had no luck in Ireland and the same in France, when she got squeezed out, and these little horses can’t hold their positions when bigger horses are intimidating them.
“That’s why we put the visor on, not for any other reason except to make her a bit braver. I think she stuck in there today, had a great tow into the race and done it like we knew she could.
“Most of the experts thought we were crazy taking the colts on, but we had the best form except for the Godolphin horse [Latharnach], but he was rated 99 before his run in the St James’s Palace Stakes and he was probably a bit flattered by that effort. We went into the race with, as I saw it, the best horse.
“She is small and has curled up in some of her races. She didn’t in the Guineas, to be fair, and we are down to a Group Three here, a level at which she has won already. Recently she has only run in Group Ones and been a bit unlucky in a few.
“We are thinking of going to America with her because there are a lot more opportunities out there.”
Belvoir Bay was a strikingly impressive winner of the six-furlong Betfred Supports Jack Berry House Nursery for trainer Richard Hannon and jockey Richard Hughes.
The 9/2 shot was stepping up to six furlongs for the first time and travelled smoothly into contention under the champion jockey, enjoying his second success at his final Qatar Goodwood Festival. She quickened clear inside the final furlong and won easing up by a length and a half.
“Belvoir Bay is a decent filly but I didn’t expect her to win as easily as that,” said Hannon.
“I thought she would go very close in the Super Sprint last time but it was a little bit quick for her and she just got caught out.
“She is a nice filly and I am hoping she will be up to getting a bit of black type. It depends what the handicapper does as to where she will go next.”
Hughes, who retires from race riding tomorrow, added: “They went quite hard and I was always confident that I would win.
“I moved her towards the outside at the three-pole. She was going so well that I didn’t want to take any chances.
“She won very easily at Windsor and then the Super Sprint was probably a bit of a shock to her. Today, I was able to give her the chance to travel and she enjoyed it.”
Ah yes, Richard Hughes. The jockey who was expected to take the headlines this week, his final one in the saddle. Seems no-one told Frankie.
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