OISIN MURPHY showed why he’s destined to become a global force in Flat racing after an ice-cool victory on Benbatl in the £4m Dubai Turf.
“I must be the luckiest 22-year-old in the world,” he declared after attempting a Frankie Dettori-like dismount after the imposing win.
In contrast to last month’s prep race when everything went wrong for the 2017 Royal Ascot winner, the contest could not have gone smoother.
Murphy settled Benbatl on the heels of the free-going South African challenger Janoobi before kicking decisively clear on the turn for home and sealing the race in an instant.
It was simple and uncomplicated – rarely are such prizes won so emphatically – from a jockey who has been riding with such confidence and coolness on the all-weather circuit.
Murphy’s third Group One win in just over six months, they have all come overseas and he will be hoping to record his first win in Britain at the highest level in 2018.
And it’s possible Benbatl could be the horse after trainer Saeed bin Suroor nominated the 10-furlong Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.
After completing the biggest win of his career, Murphy said: “Last time I gave the horse a bad ride and it was very good of Sheikh Mohammed and Saeed to give me another chance on him.
“I was determined to make amends and once in that position I was pretty sure I would win. It’s very hard to find a world-class horse to ride, but he is a horse you dream about.
“He’s very talented and today he had a good trip and showed his class. He jumped slow last time and the pace was slow, so I couldn’t come back. I ended up wide and covered extra ground and didn’t get into a good rhythm. Today, everything fell right.”
There was further success for Newmarket-based bin Suroor – and Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation – when Thunder Snow benefited from a well-judged front-running ride by Christophe Soumillon to claim the feature Dubai World Cup at Meydan.
And a golden day on home turf for Sheikh Mohammed saw Charlie Appleby complete a high-profile double courtesy of the James Doyle-ridden Jungle Cat in the Al Quoz Sprint before William Buick took the Dubai Sheema Classic on former Eclipse winner Hawkbill who led from start to finish.
“Hawkbill has been a model of consistency and Will gave him a fantastic ride,” said Appleby.
“When he was in the gates and started to have a bit of a go I thought ‘oh, no’, but he was sound and they’ve allowed him to run and I’m delighted. It’s a huge team effort.”
The victory could see Hawkbill take on Benbatl at Royal Ascot in what would be a battle of the Godolphin heavyweights.
North Yorkshire jockey Brian Hughes is due to partner Bless The Wings in today’s Irish Grand National.
The Cheltenham Festival faller is one of 13 runners for trainer Gordon Elliott, whose horses account for nearly half of the 30-strong field.
It’s also a significant call-up for Hughes who has already recorded his fourth successive century of winners.
The Fairyhouse showpiece could go a long way to deciding who will be crowned this season’s champion National Hunt trainer in Ireland, with a total prize fund of 500,000 euros up for grabs.
Elliott holds a significant lead over multiple champion Willie Mullins, whose four runners are headed by Pairofbrowneyes.
Ironically, neither man has won the Irish National previously.
Ebor winner Nakeeta will bid to win back-to-back renewals of York’s historic handicap, trainer Iain Jardine has confirmed.
Jardine said his stable star, ridden to glory by Callum Rodriguez, could reappear in next month’s Chester Cup before bidding to become the first horse since Flint Jack in the 1920s to win successive Ebors.
Today’s season-opening Flat fixture at Redcar has been abandoned due to waterlogging.
National Hunt cards at Fakenham, Plumpton and Chepstow must all pass precautionary inspections if they are to go ahead.
Meanwhile, an inspection this morning will determine prospects for tomorrow’s meeting at Pontefract.