Godolphin’s Masar ready for 2,000 Guineas test

Dubai: Masar, who trainer Charlie Appleby has described as a “horse with a bright future”, can live up to that claim by winning the Group 1 2,000 Guineas, the first British Classic of the year, on Saturday.

Just 16 days after his imperious nine-length victory in the Craven Stakes (G3) at Newmarket’s Rowley Mile Racecourse, the Godolphin colt returns to the scene of that eye-popping victory to take on 13 rivals and continue his upward curve.

Being contested for the 210th consecutive year, the £500,000 contest will launch the 35-race British Champions Series, which culminates in British Champions Day at Ascot on October 20.

The son of New Approach first announced himself a high-class colt when winning last September’s Group 3 Solario Stakes at Sandown Park before finishing a noteworthy third in the Group 1 Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere at Chantilly, France in October.

He then travelled to America to contest the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf where he encountered traffic woes at Del Mar before running on strongly for sixth behind subsequent UAE Derby (G2) winner Mendlessohn.

Masar clocked more air miles when he wintered in Dubai during which time he encountered his less fancied dirt surface in the Al Bastakiya at Meydan.

However, Appleby’s faith in his future stable star was reignited with Masar’s dominating Craven success.

“I have been pleased with his preparation and he’s come out of the Craven in good order,” said the Godolphin handler.

“The way he galloped down into the dip in the Craven was very good, he handled it well. He’s very athletic. I’m very happy where we are with Masar at the present time.

“He was fit going into the Craven but has definitely come forward mentally and in terms of maturity,” he added.

“It should be lovely ground at Newmarket on Saturday and he has the course experience now.

“Masar is a horse that we always loved as a two-year-old. It was unfortunate how it panned out for him at the Breeders’ Cup but we put a line through that and we knew not long after the gates opened out in Dubai that dirt was not the surface for him,” said Appleby.

“Based on what we saw in the Craven, we must go into Saturday’s race hoping that he is a serious contender. It’s an exciting weekend for the team and we hope that Masar has a decent chance.”

Among the 14 declared runners for the 2000 Guineas are two other contenders with a Dubai connection.

Cardsharp races in the colours of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, and Elarqam represents Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance.

 He [Masar] was fit going into the Craven but has definitely come forward mentally and in terms of maturity. It should be lovely ground at Newmarket on Saturday and he has the course experience now.”

 – Charlie Appleby | Godolphin handler 

Elarqam is a son of the legendary Frankel, who won the 2,000 Guineas in 2001.

Assessing the horses’ chances, trainer Mark Johnston’s son and assistant, Charlie, told the Yorkshire Post: “The only doubt maybe is that he’s not as experienced as some of his rivals.

“He’s had two runs and that’s part of the reason he’s been to Newmarket for a racecourse gallop, to get a bit more experience and look around the place. We are very confident in our horse and we wouldn’t swap him for anything.”

Aidan O’Brien, who is bidding to win the race for a ninth time, is likely to be represented by four runners, including Murillo, Saxon Warrior, U S Navy Flag and Gustav Klimt.