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Friday, October 25, 2002
Contact: Notes Team (847) 385-7472/7473
International Powers Coolmore and Godolphin Square Off Again In Breeders' Cup
The evolving battle for worldwide supremacy on the turf between the Maktoum family's Godolphin Racing and the Irish partnerships under the aegis of Coolmore Stud makes fascinating viewing every year, particularly on the racecourses of Europe.
American fans were treated to the intensity of the battle at the World Thoroughbred Championships at Belmont Park last year, notably in the John Deere Breeders' Cup Turf, when Michael Tabor and Susan Magnier's (Coolmore) Milan rallied furiously through the stretch to just miss catching Godolphin's favored Fantastic Light. Tabor/Magnier's Johannesburg put up a sterling performance to win the Bessemer Trust Juvenile and an Eclipse Award, but the day really belonged to Godolphin.
The Dubai-based operation ran one-two in the Juvenile Fillies with Tempera and Imperial Gesture, both trained by Eoin Harty in California, and lost a tough one when Sakhee failed by a nose to hold off Tiznow in the Classic. (Coolmore's Giant's Causeway had lost the Classic to Tiznow by a neck in 2000.)
Coolmore came back in 2002. Trainer Aidan O'Brien led the British trainers' table with eight wins in England from 79 starts for earnings of just over $4 million. Godolphin's trainer, Saeed bin Suroor, finished fifth in the standings with a little over $2.5 million from 21 wins in 83 starts. Godolphin won more Group races, nine to Coolmore's seven, and also took France's most prestigious race, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe with 15-1 Marienbard, but Coolmore had the marquee horses across the Atlantic this year.
Rock of Gibraltar, even-money morning-line favorite for Saturday's NetJets Mile, became the first horse anywhere to win seven consecutive Group/Grade I races when he took the NetJets Prix du Moulin in his final Breeders' Cup prep. He is owned by Coolmore boss John Magnier's wife, Susan, and Sir Alex Ferguson, manager of Manchester United soccer club.
The other Coolmore blockbuster of 2002 was High Chaparral, 8-5 favorite for the Breeders' Cup Turf. Owned by Susan Magnier and Michael Tabor, the 3yo son of Sadler's Wells rattled off six consecutive wins (three Group Is) before finishing third in his Turf prep, the Prix de l'Arc de Tromphe. Among his victories were the Epsom and Budweiser Irish Derbies.
O'Brien will send seven runners into the Breeders' Cup on Saturday, the same as last year, but bin Suroor will have only three, and only one of those has come from Europe compared to four last year. Filly & Mare Turf entrant Kazzia, bred in Germany, took the Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont in her latest start but had earlier won two British classics, the One Thousand Guineas and Epsom Oaks. The other Godolphin runners, E Dubai in the Classic and Imperial Gesture in the Distaff, have done all their recent racing in the U.S. Still, Godolphin has collected 16 Group I races worldwide this year and 95 overall in the decade of its existence.
Nick Clarke, managing director of the International Racing Bureau in Newmarket, England, has been watching the Godolphin-Coolmore battle evolve and exhibits equal admiration for both.
"They both take the strategic view and are prepared to take their chances," Clarke said. "The year Godolphin has had would be a terrific one by anyone else's standards, but by their standards it probably hasn't been the most brilliant one. No doubt they'll come back next year.
"They have great respect for each other. From our point of view it's terrific because both, and particularly Godolphin, really look at the world, cliché though it is, as a village. If it's Australia it's 12,000 miles, so, let's go for it. If it's the United States it's 4,500 miles, so let's go for that too."
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