Scratched at the gate as the favorite in last year’s Al Quoz Sprint (G1), Godolphin’s Blue Point had no such mishap on the way to glory in Saturday’s $2 million turf dash at Meydan. But the heavy favorite did have to work a bit to subdue Peter Miller’s gutsy mare Belvoir Bay, who in turn held her champion stablemate Stormy Liberal to third.
Belvoir Bay scampered to the front and saw off a challenge from Sands of Mali, the British Champions Sprint (G1) winner. Australian-based Brave Smash drafted in their slipstream before coming up empty. Blue Point, on his outer flank, was just beginning to lift while on the far side of the track, Stormy Liberal began to improve on the inside.
The Dubai World Cup day crowd waited in anticipation as Blue Point, who outclassed his foes in his two Carnival preps, drew alongside to Belvoir Bay. But the mare was not stopping. Godolphin jockey William Buick had to ask Blue Point to find more inside the final sixteenth, and he did.
Ultimately pulling away by 1 1/4 lengths, the Charlie Appleby charge covered about six furlongs on the good course in 1:08.39. That time flirted with the course mark of 1:08.24 set by now-retired stablemate Jungle Cat, the beneficiary of Blue Point’s withdrawal a year ago.
Stormy Liberal, just held by Jungle Cat then, had to settle for third this time. Another four lengths back in fourth came Australian mare Viddora, followed by 2017 winner The Right Man, Sands of Mali, Wishful Thinker, Brave Smash, slow-starting Ekhtiyaar, Aidan O’Brien’s Lost Treasure, slow-starting Mazzini, Illustrious Lad, and Caribou Club, who never looked comfortable chasing and was run off his feet.
Blue Point was earning his second Group 1 laurel after downing Battaash in last summer’s King’s Stand (G1) at Royal Ascot. The son of Shamardal is now three-for-three this season, building upon victories in the Meydan Sprint (G2) and Nad al Sheba Turf Sprint (G3).
Quotes from Dubai Racing Club
Winning trainer Charlie Appleby: “You have got a combination here of William and the horse. They thrive off each other. William knows him inside out. I knew from the body language, as much as you never get confident too soon, but I felt that William had pretty much everything covered there. I’m delighted. I have always been very fond of him, ever since his two-year-old days and he’s doing what we always hoped he would do one day and that is to become a finished article in the top sprinting division.
“Hopefully, we all know it’s a tough game but if he turns up fit and well, he is going to be there to try and defend his crown in the King’s Stand Stakes. I spoke to His Highness and we said that as long as he ran well here that would be the plan.”
Winning rider William Buick: “That was nice and straightforward and the horse deserved it. He has been foot-perfect in his two lead-up races to this and he has copied that today. He traveled really strongly and has again shown a great turn of foot. When he got to the front he knows he has done enough. It is great at the age of five he is showing everyone just how good he is and he has always shown us so much speed. I remember riding him as a two-year-old and I’d never ridden a faster horse before he made his debut. He has developed into a top-class sprinter now.”
Trainer Peter Miller on runner-up Belvoir Bay and third Stormy Liberal: “They were super runs, they both ran their races, I can’t complain about it. We just got beat by the home team and that was probably the difference. I think maybe if the race was at Santa Anita we might have had the edge.
“All congratulations to Sheikh Mohammed and his team. Blue Point is a super horse and it was no disgrace finishing second and third to him. I’m very pleased we came over. I’m hoping maybe I’ll see Blue Point in the Breeders’ Cup at Santa Anita. He can come and we’ve got a score to settle.”
Jockey Flavien Prat on Belvoir Bay: “I knew she had improved going into the race and could run well, and that’s what she did. She had a good trip through the race and liked the track. She’s a great fighter but just couldn’t catch the winner.”
Joel Rosario who rode Stormy Liberal: “He ran really well and the one in the lead looked very good. All went well through the race.”
Jockey Joe Bowditch on fourth Viddora: “ I was tracking the winner Blue Point and at halfway I asked my mare to go with him. She couldn’t quite do that, but she batted on well for fourth. She has run with credit having traveled so far from Australia. Blue Point must be very good to clock a time like that on a track that to me didn’t appear super-fast.”
Joe Talamo, rider of the trailing Caribou Club: “We had a really good trip and I broke really good. I was following the winner the whole way but then we couldn’t quite keep up. This is pretty tough competition but he’s a hard trying horse and I know he’s going to come back from this and he’ll be good going forward.”