Godolphin’s stranglehold on the G2 Al Rashidiya (Presented by Azizi) shows no sign of releasing as Valiant Prince (pictured) led home a blue 1-2-3 in the feature race of the second night of the Dubai World Cup Carnival.
Charlie Appleby’s five-year-old was two from two at Meydan prior to this but did have to prove his liking for 1800metres, as well as beat hotly fancied stablemate Ottoman Fleet. Despite being keen early on under James Doyle, he was stronger at the finish than both that rival, who finished third, and G3 Bahrain Trophy winner Dubai Future, powering through between horses for a three-quarter length success.
“It was a big step forward on what he’s achieved in the past,” said Doyle of Valiant Prince’s Group race debut. “We were drawn well, but it got a little hairy on the bend and the two in front got away. It kind of suited him as he doesn’t want to see much daylight and the way he picked up was quite a surprise – he felt like he was always going to win comfortably.”
The new Thunder Snow Challenge, over 2000metres on dirt, is named after the dual Dubai World Cup winner so it was fitting that it went the way of a horse who once finished fifth in the big race itself.
Salute The Soldier was below par in three starts last season, but Fawzi Nass’ veteran bounced back here under his favourite frontrunning tactics deployed by Adrie De Vries. Inside the final furlong he never looked like being caught, despite Uruguayan G1 winner Atletico El Culano flying home for second.
“I’m so happy for the horse and for the team to get him back to that level, as it was a tough race today,” said De Vries. “Since we moved to Meydan [Nass is now based at Grandstand Stables] he seems a lot happier. Last year he just wasn’t the same horse and I had my doubts he would get back, but he’s proved me wrong.”