Saturday 18 November 2017

Masar powers home to end Godolphin wait

Masar, ridden by James Doyle, comes home to win The BetBright Solario Stakes at Sandown Photo: PA
Masar, ridden by James Doyle, comes home to win The BetBright Solario Stakes at Sandown Photo: PA

Chris Cook

There cannot be many significant British Flat races in which Godolphin have racked up a 23-year losing streak but the Solario Stakes was one until yesterday, when Masar powered home two lengths clear in the style of a good horse. Hilal Ibrahim was the winning trainer on the last occasion the royal blue colours were carried to victory in this influential race for two-year-olds, all the way back in Godolphin's debut year of 1994.

Ibrahim's involvement in British racing did not extend beyond that year. Charlie Appleby, trainer of Masar, should have an altogether longer tenure as a Godolphin employee in Newmarket, having maintained a deeply impressive 38 per cent strike-rate with his juveniles this year, to the chagrin of Saeed bin Suroor, his colleague across town, who would have liked some of those horses to be sent to him.

Masar is the first of Appleby's youngsters to win a Group race this year, so it was interesting indeed to hear the trainer say of the chestnut: "He's only going to get better as he gets older." And there was only a modicum of levity when he said, of next year's targets for the colt: "The Guineas is the best Derby trial, as they say."

Some punters put a line through Masar here because he could do no better than third at Royal Ascot when last seen but Appleby saw reasons at the time to excuse that effort in what was admittedly a hot race. "In the paddock, he was awash with sweat. Ascot is a big arena to turn up in on your second start. The winner was impressive on the day, the second horse was 10 lengths clear with two furlongs to run, we just got a bit detached from it all. So I was happy with our fella, knowing that he was young enough and progressive enough.

"People asked me why I gave him a break after Ascot; it was a conscious decision that we made, feeling that he was, physically, a shell of a horse. He's done great for that lay-off. His home work was always pleasing us. I said before, I couldn't give a negative, coming into today."

So Masar appears, for now, to be the genuine article, a credible contender for next year's Classics, for all that the bookmakers have him no shorter than 33/1 for the Derby. Appleby expects to run him just once more, possibly in Newmarket's Royal Lodge over a mile at the end of this month.

"I don't think we'll see the best of this horse until he's a three-year-old. As a two-year-old, if you ask me who's going to be to the fore in those championship two-year-old races, I'm hopeful that we've got some that could surpass him. When he's three, I think he could probably be surpassing them again."

James Doyle was the winning jockey, deputising for his friend, the injured William Buick. "He took a little bit of time to drop down into gear," Doyle said of Masar, "but once he did, he powered away nicely. I was pretty confident after going a furlong."

Buick, who fractured vertebrae in a fall at a Chicago racetrack last month, will surely have to wait for next year before he can climb aboard Masar again. Appleby reported that the jockey must wait another four weeks for a second scan to assess the extent of his recovery, until which time Buick is trying to keep himself fit with a limited range of exercise.

There appears a very real prospect of John Gosden running his two stable stars against each other in next month's Arc, after the trainer confirmed Cracksman would line up for an Arc trial at Chantilly next Sunday. Gosden also has Enable, hot favourite for the Arc , at his Newmarket yard. "He runs in the Prix Niel and all decisions will be made after that," Gosden said. "He's in very good form. He did a good, strong canter this morning and we're very happy with him.

"These French trials are often trappy, they're a bit like those velodrome cycle races: they go creep, creep, creep - and then sprint. They trot and sprint, so he could well be forced to make his own running, we'll see."

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