Bunting sparks Godolphin celebration

IT was hard to avoid the feeling of anticlimax at Newmarket yesterday, but it will not have affected those connected with Godolphin as Blue Bunting slipped virtually unnoticed up the stands rail to collect the Qipco 1000 Guineas.

Twenty four hours on from Frankel’s astonishing display in the 2000 Guineas, here was a filly who was not even considered the first choice of Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin team until the leading fancy White Moonstone was withdrawn a week ago.

Blue Bunting is essentially regarded as a middle-distance, Oaks type, having rounded off her two-year-old career with a victory over the course and distance last October and was sent off at 16-1.

Stamina is clearly her forte as she motored through a fierce Rowley Mile headwind in the final furlong to pick off Together and Maqaasid, who had been locked together for some time.

Mahmood Al Zarooni, who has only been a trainer in his own right for a year, was winning a first British Classic while it was number 14 for Frankie Dettori.

“That felt great!” said Dettori

“It was a pleasant surprise. The lads had been telling me she was working well, but, honestly, she had a lot to prove on form.

“It’s fantastic as I haven’t won a Classic for a while and I’m based here in Newmarket. This is my home town.

“The wind was very strong but we had fresh legs at the end.

“I’m delighted for the Godolphin team. Mahmood told me she was more of an Oaks filly, so whatever she was going to do today was a bonus. To win is fantastic.”

Al Zarooni has already enjoyed considerable success in his native Dubai and has been putting Godolphin’s more senior trainer Saeed Bin Suroor in the shade this season.

He beamed: “To win a Classic in England isn’t like anywhere else in the world. It’s a different taste, especially in Newmarket.

“You’ve got the best horses and the best trainers here, it’s not easy to win the big races.

“It has all come about because of His Highness, we follow what he says because he has the experience. He knows the racing here.”

The Investec Oaks, for which Blue Bunting is a best-priced 7-2 favourite with Victor Chandler and Boylesports, is now the aim with Godolphin’s racing manager Simon Crisford confirming: “We have been in two minds whether to run in an Oaks trial but we decided to come here.”

The 9-2 favourite Moonlight Cloud appeared well-held in seventh, although jockey Davy Bonilla blamed the fact there was a delay at the start when her fellow French raider Immortal Verse was withdrawn.

But the major disappointment was Memory, who stood still leaving the gates and finished a remote last.

Jockey Richard Hughes reported: “If she wants to go she can win but she refused to jump off (from the stalls). She nearly did the same at Royal Ascot but I got away with it.”

Aidan O’Brien’s Together held on for second after a brave and positive run which was far better than her previous form and 33-1 price implied.

Unfortunately jockey Colm O’Donoghue was given a two-day ban (May 15-16) for using the whip with excessive frequency.

“I was delighted to see her run so well and the trip seemed to suit her,” said the trainer.


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