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Sheikh Mohammed has established a permanent base for global racing powerhouse Godolpin in Australia and will ensure both local trainer John O’Shea and international horseman Saeed Bin Suroor have the chance to secure the 2014 Melbourne Cup for the operation.
Leaving Darley to operate in the breeding arena only, the move will see the former maroon and white racing colours replaced by the famous royal blue of the Godolphin brand as of August 1 when the 2014-15 racing season kicks off.
“Over the last fifteen years, Sheikh Mohammed has led Darley’s development and investment in Australia with incredible success and this announcement is a natural next-step,” Sheikh Mohammed’s bloodstock advisor John Ferguson told TVN on Wednesday.
“Godolphin represents the crown jewels of Sheikh Mohammed’s horseracing operations and the establishment of a permanent presence in Australia is not only testament to his on-going commitment to the racing industry but also to the country at large.
“As we have seen, Emirates Airline has an ever-growing presence here in Australia with the Qantas partnership, and as Godolphin’s main sponsor, it would be a missed opportunity to not have a home here.
“We have some fantastic horses in Australia, and with John O’Shea at the helm, we’re in good hands.”
O’Shea took over as head trainer for Darley and now Godolphin after Peter Snowden stood down at the end of the year and is thrilled about his new responsibilities.
“Godolphin is the most prestigious thoroughbred stable in the world and one of the most successful,” O’Shea said.
“His Highness is a true horseman himself and I consider it an honour to be given this responsibility.
“I look forward to the start of the season and to contributing to Godolphin’s continued global success.”
One of the team’s major aims this spring is of course winning the Melbourne Spring Racing Carnival’s showcase race, the $6.2 million Group 1 Emirates Melbourne Cup (3200m) at Flemington on the first Tuesday of November.
It’s a race Godolphin has come close to winning a number of times but so far a ‘Loving Trophy’ has eluded them.
They’ve twice produced a runner-up in the ‘race that stops a nation’ with the Saeed Bin Suroor-trained Central Park (1999) and Give The Slip (2001).
Now both O’Shea and Bin Suroor will be armed with Melbourne Cup-bound horses to help finally take out that elusive first place in the world’s richest handicap.
“Saeed Bin Suroor has had horses racing in the Melbourne Cup before and if he has the right horse he will continue to bring them for the Melbourne Cup but inevitably John will be armed with the materials to hopefully get the job done,” Ferguson said.
“At the end of the day, whatever stable they are in, it is the race that suits them the best, if Saeed has a horse who he feels is suited to the Melbourne Cup, he will be allowed to have a crack at it, hopefully running alongside John’s horse, it is a race we want to win, we have been close in the past and it is only fair if everyone is given the chance to have a crack.”
One of those horses could be recent Royal Ascot winner Contributer who was only just purchased by Godolphin with an eye on bringing them down under for the spring.
The High Chaparral four-year-old, previously prepared at Newmarket by Ed Dunlop, was last seen winning the Listed Wolferton Handicap (2011m) on June 20 where they defeated the Queen Elizabeth-owned Bold Sniper (2nd) and Gai Waterhouse’s recent acquisition Café Society (3rd).
“We will get him here and then decide what races are best for him but he is a very nice young horse who we are delighted to have secured,” Ferguson said.
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