Global racing giant Godolphin may have a genuine shot at the 2013 Melbourne Cup down under this spring following a tight but impressive win at York over the weekend by their Dubawi gelding Ahzeemah.
Posting their fifth win at career start number 17 the up-and-coming stayer was able to track down the leader and take up the front running over the final furlong, holding on to win the Group 2 Lonsdale Cup (3299m).
Ridden by Silvstre De Sousa the Saeed Bin Suroor-trained English galloper held on in a thrilling finish to hold off race favourite Simenon by a long neck, showing their ability to handle both the two miles and a stack of late pressure.
“He’s so honest and incredibly genuine,” Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford told Racing UK after the race.
In third meanwhile was the defending Lonsdale Cup winner Times Up nearly three lengths off the top two this year.
Not having finished outside the top three since April last year, Ahzeemah became a dual Group winner in the Lonsdale Cup having also won a Group 3 feature at Meydan in Dubai over 2810m back in March.
There are now plenty of options for the proven longer distance champ who will be looking for a Group 1 trophy for connections now.
One of those options is a trip to Australia this Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival where the obvious aim will be the iconic $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on Tuesday November 5.
“If he gets a weight that enables him to get a place in the field we would look at the Emirates Melbourne Cup, or possibly the Qipco Stayers race on British Champions’ Day where he wouldn’t carry a penalty,” Crisford said.
“We love the Melbourne Cup, it is one of the events of the year and hopefully he would have enough weight to get in.”
The Qipco British Champions Long Distance Cup is over a shorter distance than the Melbourne Cup but holds far less prestige or prize money.
Godolphin could send not only Ahzeemah but also their recent Geoffrey Freer Stakes winner Royal Empire to Melbourne this spring, with quarantine for the Cup horses to start at the end of September.
As for the Willie Mullins-trained runner-up Simenon, they too are still a chance for Melbourne despite being under pressure to make the coveted 24-horse Melbourne Cup field.
“He’s entered there and we have other options such as the Prix Cadran but we would like to head south,” Mullins said.
“I was pleased with the run as he had to do the donkey work. Having made his own running it was an excellent run.
“We knew before the race he might have to make it if nothing else went on. He really likes coming between horses.”
Mullins was represented in the Melbourne Cup a decade ago when Holy Orders ran 17th to the record breaking Makybe Diva in 2003, a trip that taught the trainer and his team a lot about international travel.
“We learned a lot from that trip and I have always said that if I had one good enough I would like to return,” he said.
Ahzeemah and Simeon are yet to be added into the pre-nomination Melbourne Cup odds at the Aussie bookmakers, but the world’s richest handicap is definitely being considered for them both.
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