ROYAL Line will attempt to revive memories going back 25 years when he carries the famous Sheikh Mohammed family colours in the Betfred November Handicap at Doncaster today.
The victory of Turgenev in 1992 was the second of trainer John Gosden’s record-equalling five wins in the showpiece on the final day of the turf season while Sheikh Mohammed has also had his silks carried to victory by Saxon Maid (1994) and Sabadilla (1997), both trained by Luca Cumani.
After many years of great success with such stars of the track as Oh So Sharp, Pebbles and Singspiel, the white and maroon silks went on the back burner when Sheikh Mohammed set up Godolphin.
Now following an absence of 10 years in the UK, the colours are gracing our racecourses again after the Sheikh handed them to his daughter Sheikha Al Jalila.
Royal Line was the first winner under the new banner when he made a belated debut at Windsor in September. The three-year-old son of Dubawi followed up at Haydock later that month but was last of three when going for the hat-trick at Newbury over an extended one mile and five furlongs two weeks ago.
Gosden put that defeat down to the longer trip and is expecting a better performance back at a mile and a half as the Newmarket trainer bids to overtake Sam Hall with a sixth triumph in the end-of-season finale.
“He found the trip a little bit too far last time at Newbury, but he’s in good form and the ground should suit,” said Gosden.
The last Flat turf meeting of 2017, this fixture has lost its appeal – and status – after it was decided to end the jockeys’ title race at Ascot on Champions Day.
Though Silvestre de Sousa is a runaway, and deserved, champion this year, this meeting has, on three occasions in recent times, seen the jockeys’ race go down to the wire.
Yet victory for Royal Line would cap a memorable week for jockey William Buick – he added a first Breeders Cup title to his burgeoning big race CV when Charlie Appleby’s Wuheida prevailed in California last Saturday.
Towerlands Park is another with few miles on the clock. The four-year-old, trained by Michael Bell, has been restricted to just five starts. His latest came just two weeks ago at Newbury where he was third behind Century Dream, beaten by only two lengths.
Meanwhile, Kevin Ryan does not expect the step up to a mile and a half to be a problem for Syphax, who stuck on well when second to Dark Red over an extended mile and a quarter at York last month. “He’s in good form and we’re very happy with him. He ran well last time and this trip should be fine,” said the Hambleton handler.
Trainer Amy Murphy questioned the decision to suspend jockey Raul da Silva for one day for throwing sand at a horse at Chelmsford on Thursday night.
Da Silva was aboard the Murphy-trained Sandkissed and was banned after he “appeared to gently throw a handful of the Polytrack surface at his filly’s quarters to encourage it into the stalls”.
The two-year-old filly finished last of eight runners in a six-furlong novice auction stakes.
The Chelmsford stewards said in a statement that Da Silva displayed “improper behaviour” in what was deemed “an unacceptable method of encouragement”.
But Murphy tweeted: “Unbelievable! The kickback a horse receives during a race is 100 times the force of a small flick of sand!
“I can confirm Sandkissed is absolutely fine this morning. As you will all see, what Raul did had a positive effect as she walked straight forward into the stalls. #Madness.”
Ruby Walsh is set for a week on the sidelines after he bruised his right hand in a fall at Down Royal earlier this month.
The leading jumps jockey sustained the injury in a tumble from Mystic Theatre at the second-last flight of a Grade Three mares’ novice hurdle on November 3. He continued riding until Tuesday but now feels his hand needs time to get back to normal.
We Have A Dream appears another exciting juvenile hurdler for Nicky Henderson after an impressive British debut success at Warwick.
The champion trainer has saddled a record six winners of the Triumph Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival and this French import is a 33-1 shot at this very early stage of the season following a dominant front-running display.