Qatar International Stakes (Gr1 PA) at the Qatar Goodwood Festival 2018
1 August 2018, Goodwood Racecourse ~ French trainer Francois Rohaut hailed Muraaqib (Munjiz) as the best Arabian miler in the world after his stable star completed a magnificent seven Group 1 PA wins by storming to victory in the Qatar International Stakes at the Qatar Goodwood Festival on Wednesday,1 August 2018.
The six-year-old, owned by Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, swept past Lightning Bolt inside the final two furlongs of the £400,000 ($525,000) mile contest – the UK’s richest Arabian race.
Jim Crowley quickly sent the 5-2 chance clear, and Ebraz, the 9-4 favorite to go one better than last year’s second, set off in pursuit of his market rival, but Muraaqib wasn’t stopping and passed the post with a length and a half to spare.
Lightning Bolt was two lengths adrift in third, with last year’s winner, Tayf, six lengths back in fourth on his seasonal reappearance.
“He is the best Arabian horse I have trained and probably right now he is the best in the world, certainly at a mile. It’s fantastic to win.
“He was wearing blinkers for the first time today – and it made a big difference. He was beaten last time out, but we wanted to keep them for today’s race.”
The Qatar International Stakes forms the first leg of the Doha Triple Crown, but Rohaut said it was unlikely his charge would tackle leg two – the Qatar Arabian World Cup – on Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe weekend at Longchamp in October.
Rohaut added: “I don’t think he’ll go to Longchamp because he is so good over a mile, unless Sheikh Hamdan wants to run him there. He will go to Abu Dhabi in November.”
Crowley was thrilled to capture the big prize.”It was the first time I sat on him since he won in Abu Dhabi in November,” he said. “The blinkers were a big help for him today and he was always going very well.
“I was just waiting for the gap to appear and when it did, he won well. He travelled on the bridle and they went a slow pace which suited him. It is a great feeling to come here and win.”
Shadwell Stud director Richard Lancaster, representing HH Sheikh Hamdan, added: “It was a plan laid out sometime ago. The trainer has done a fantastic job.
“When he ran at La Teste he was giving 10lb to a useful horse. It was a race to put him on song for today. It’s a great team effort and Jim rode him beautifully.”
Julian Smart, trainer of Ebraz, was philosophical about seeing the HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Khalifa Al Thani-owned six-year-old finish runner-up for the second successive year.
“He has run a good race,” he said. “Muraaqib is probably the best miler in Europe. We are second again and it’s disappointing, but I can’t complain in a race like that, but it would be nice to win it.”
His plans for a strongly-run race were blown at the start when stablemate Aaley Al Magam, who was in the race to set the pace, was slowly away.
It left Storm Troupour, who led the field into the straight, to set a steady gallop followed by Zayin Angkor Centurion.
“Aaley Al Magam reared as the gates opening, but it would not have made any difference,” added Smart. “The winner has won well.”
Karin Van Den Bos, trainer of Lightning Bolt, was delighted with her six-year-old’s display under Adrie De Vries.
“He ran so well,” she said. “He needs a longer distance. He is not a miler. He is so much stronger than last year. My jockey said, ‘what a horse’. He had never felt him feel like this before. I am very happy with my third place. I think we will prepare him for the Arc weekend and then the UAE.”
Willie McFarland, from the Arabian Racing Organisation, said: “This was a tremendous race and set on such a fantastic stage here at the Qatar Goodwood Festival. As the richest race in the UK we are thrilled to have attracted so many overseas horses.
“This is something that can grow and it gives us such encouragement for UK Arabian racing when sponsors like Qatar put on something like this. This will really help to encourage the UK to understand that the Arabian has its place within the horse racing industry.”