Weld's Dubai Prince proves a class apart
Dubai Prince lived up fully to the high expectations of both Dermot Weld and Pat Smullen at Leopardstown's Bank Holiday meeting yesterday when following up his fluent maiden success at Gowran Park in the Group Three JRA Killavullan Stakes.
Undoubtedly the form horse of the race, having defeated Racing Post Trophy runner-up Seville at the Kilkenny venue, the Shamardal colt won like an odds-on chance should by taking charge early in the straight and showing no mercy to his pursuers.
"He's a very high-class horse -- right out of the top drawer," was Smullen's post-race reaction before Weld extolled the virtues and talents of Sheikh Mohammed's unbeaten colt, which could develop into a prime English Derby contender for Godolphin next summer.
Indeed, while Ladbrokes were certainly taking no chances on that front with only an 8/1 quote (from 20s) for Epsom, Paddy Power went 16/1 and Hills 14/1 before Powers were obliged to trim those odds to 12/1 little more than an hour later.
"Every top-class horse needs the speed to win over seven furlongs and that's one of the reasons we dropped him back a furlong today. Dubai Prince is a very exciting horse for next year, big and relaxed, and I have enjoyed training him this season," Weld said.
"There might be one more race for him this year, a Group One over 10 furlongs at Saint-Cloud in a couple of weeks. I will talk over that option with John Ferguson (Sheikh Mohammed's bloodstock adviser) but it was always on the cards that he would be going to Godolphin."
Ground and trip don't bother the son of Shamardal, Darley's prized stallion also responsible for Saturday's Doncaster hero Casamento, according to the Rosewell House trainer whose subsequent Irish Derby victor Grey Swallow also took this Leopardstown event at 4/9 in 2003.
The Weld-Smullen partnership later produced a similar runaway victor in the Trigo Stakes when top weight Famous Name had no difficulty in repeating his win of two years ago in this Listed affair despite taking a walk in the on-course market.
Former champion Smullen, who leaves for Australia tomorrow to partner their stable companion Profound Beauty in the Melbourne Cup next Tuesday, ended what proved a rewarding if a little frustrating fixture for the team with just those two Stakes scorers to leave him eight ahead (91-83) of reigning title holder Johnny Murtagh, who hit back in the finale as Frank McNulty's home-bred Leah Claire prevailed by a whisker.
Smullen had to be content however with second place in each of the juvenile maidens on Moyglare Stud Farm's fast-finishing favourites Eva's Time and newcomer Notable Graduate behind the more experienced pair Stylish One and Tiz The Shot.
Astrakham fared no better either for Weld and Smullen when unable to peg back Jeangeorges in the Blue Cross Handicap and the stable's good apprentice Leigh Roche then was third on Duc De Savoie in the final of the Derrinstown Stud Apprentice series as Andy Oliver's well-backed Super Say got the better of a duel with Hedaaya to send Ben Curtis two clear of Gary Carroll and three in front of Joseph O'Brien in their junior championship tussle.