Appleby's Nations Pride Leads Five-Strong Godolphin Challenge In Bahrain

Nations Pride | Bahrain Turf Club

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Charlie Appleby says Nations Pride (Ire) (Teofilo {Ire}) will line out in Friday's $1m Bahrain International Trophy with a favourite's chance but admitted that stall 12 could make things tricky for the dual Group 1 winner as Godolphin ready a five-strong team for the Group 2 contest.

Last seen winning the G1 Canadian International in October, Nations Pride will be joined by stablemate Highland Avenue (Ire) (Dubawi {Ire}), with William Buick opting to ride the former in his bid to win the race for a first time.

Appleby said, “Nations Pride is in great shape and we are very happy with him. He's had a great season already and it was always our intention to head to Bahrain following his win out in Canada. Stall 12 makes things slightly trickier but he is one of the class horses in the race and looks the worthy favourite.”

The trainer added, “Highland Avenue took the journey out to Bahrain in his stride and has been training well out there. He has a nice draw in three and lines up on the back of a pleasing win at Newmarket. I feel we have two competitive runners in a very strong edition of the race.”

Godolphin will also be represented by the Saeed bin Suroor-trained duo of Dubai Future (GB) (Dubawi {Ire}) and Real World (Ire) (Dark Angel {Ire}) while Andre Fabre's Birr Castle (Fr) provides an extra layer of intrigue.

Dubai Future landed the 1m2f event 12 months ago but his trainer has described Friday's edition as a stronger renewal. 

Bin Suroor said, “Dubai Future won this race last year, although this looks a tougher renewal. He has been working well and I have been pleased with his preparation. He has gone well fresh in the past and has a nice draw in stall five. I am looking for another good effort.

“Real World showed some very good form in 2022 and looks to be in good order. He is drawn down on the inside in stall one, but I am hoping that he will be able to show his strong turn of foot in the straight.”

Andre Fabre sent over Magny Cours to finish fourth in last year's Bahrain Trophy and the trainer is represented this time by three-year-old Birr Castle. Twice successful at Listed level in France this season, the Cloth Of Stars (Ire) colt also ran well to finish a close third behind Ace Impact in the G2 Prix Guillaume d'Ornano.

It's not all about the Godolphin blue in Bahrain. In the red corner, legendary former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson will have his colours carried by the Richard Fahey-trained Spirit Dancer (GB) (Frankel {GB}) while Coolmore are doubly represented by Above The Curve (American Pharoah) and Point Lonsdale (Ire) (Australia {GB}). 

Spirit Dancer, who Ferguson bred alongside Niall McLoughlin, will face the stiffest test of his career to date but the Scottish native was taking the built-up to Friday's race in his stride. 

“I think my competitive element was left in football,” he told Racing TV's Raceday. “I never question the trainer and I never get upset if the horse loses because it's a different sport for me-I can't tell a horse what to do, but at least I could tell my players what to do. In that respect I'm not a critical judge at all, ever.

“I enjoy being there and if a horse wins of course you are excited, especially in big races. Spirit Dancer has given us great joy and I've started a stud and he's the first product of the stud.”

Meanwhile, Fahey described the trip to Bahrain as no afterthought with the progressive colt and outlined his hopes for the six-year-old on Thursday.

He said, “The target all season was Bahrain because it's a million-dollar race and a good opportunity in trip, track and everything will suit. He's a very laid-back horse. When you go on about international runners, you've got to pick the right horse and this horse's mind is great and I'm sure he'll probably drive the plane back on the way home because he's just so laid back. There's no issues with him at all.”

Other British and Irish interests include the John and Thady Gosden-trained Israr (GB) (Muhaarar {GB}), Noel Meade's Layfayette (Ire) (French Navy {GB}) and Daniel and Claire Kubler's Astro King (Ire) (Kingman {GB}). 

The Bahrain Trophy takes place at 12.05pm locally, or 2.05 in Britain and Ireland. Viewers in Britain and Ireland will be able to watch the race live on Racing TV.

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