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Dubai World Cup

Godolphin Mile: Skysurfers in focus
by Geir Stabell / Globeform
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Mentioned as a possible World Cup horse early on last season, Skysurfers instead contested the Godolphin Mile (G2) on the big night, and finished third.

That bare result does not do him full justice. He may not be up to contesting a World Cup, nor does he have the stamina for that contest, but Skysurfers ran an exceptionally good race in defeat in the mile event and he will get another chance to win it this year.

Being a runner with early speed, his chances were dealt a severe blow as he drew stall 12 in the 14-runner field. From that starting position, it was clear that he could not be ridden as he likes it best, near the pace early on, and Skysurfers was shuffled back to the middle of the pack. He delivered a fine kick at the finish to get up for third, beaten 2 lengths by the winner, Calming Influence. A better trip might have seen him finish a lot closer. This was his second best performance at Meydan in 2010. His best came first time out, when he slammed the G1 winner Eagle Mountain by 3 lengths over a mile in February. Eagle Mountain, an ex-Aiden O'Brien trainee with Mike de Kock, went into the race with four valuable stakes wins under his belt, while Skysurfers had raced just once previously. He had cruised home by 10 lengths in a maiden race at lowly Southwell in England four months earlier. Despite this lack of experience, he absolutely hammered Eagle Mountain at Meydan. No wonder the World Cup was mentioned. But Skysurfers, with his sharp early speed, was being kept to a mile, and he was considered the 'banker of the day' when he went for the Burj Nahaar (G3) on Super Thursday. Clearly having an off-day, he never looked dangerous in this event, and had to settle for fifth behind Cat Junior, who has also returned to Meydan this year.

Whether this below par performance was as a result of the so-called 'bounce factor' (horse regressing mentally after a big performance) is hard to say, but Skysurfers did so much better in the Godolphin Mile and he is clearly one of the best Tapeta milers in Dubai. He is not as good on turf courses. Three runs in England last summer resulted in two second place finishes in Listed company. Back at Meydan on February 10, he once more produced an impressive performance after a long break. Skysurfers may well be that type of horse, who runs best when fresh after a vacation. He returned to action in the Firebreak Stakes, an unusually tough Listed race. With the likes of Musir, Gayego, Bankable and Imbongi also lining up, the race could just as well have been a Group 2. And Skysurfers looked every inch a Group 1 horse in winning it. He quickened up really well between horses to get first run on the favourite, last year's UAE Derby winner Musir, at the top of the stretch, and fended that rival readily off in the clsoing stages. Passing the post, Skysurfers was well in command, landing the spoils by 1 lengths. The 1600-metres distance certainly favoured him more than Musir but make no mistake about it, this was top-class form, and it was Skysurfer's best to date. Imbongi, who had been 2 lengths behind Mendip in the Al Maktoum Challenge I (G3), was beaten 6 lengths in third, with Bankable back in fourth.

Skysurfers will go straight to the Godolphin Mile without another run and, given a better post position draw than last year, he holds a winning chance. He is a son of E Dubai, winner of the Dwyer Stakes (G2) and Suburban Handicap (G2), and runner-up in the Super Derby (G1), in the USA for Godolphin. E Dubai has also sire of Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint winner Desert Code, and there is a lot of speed in Skysurfer's pedigree. His dam Fortune is a daughter of Night Shift. She was no star but won a sprint race and comes from a classy family; Fortune is a full-sister to Creaking Board, an 8-length winner of the Hollywood Starlet (G1) as a juvenile, and she is also half-sister to the French G3-winning sprinter Dyhim Diamond and Dakhla Oasis, who won the Henkel-Rennen / German 1,000 Guineas (G2) over 1600 metres. No wonder Skysurfers turned out to be a miler.



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Last update: 2011-03-01 06:26:12 (First published: 2011-03-01 05:45:19 )

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