The Godolphin team was understandably elated with Encke's 25-1 upset of
Camelot in Saturday's Group 1 St Leger. Aside from garnering a sixth victory in
the world's oldest classic, they denied archrival Coolmore's colt an historic
sweep of the English Triple Crown.
"We are probably not going to be the most popular winner on Town Moor today," Racing Manager Simon Crisford admitted, "but from our point of view it was a fantastic result, giving Godolphin its sixth St Leger success."
Trainer Mahmood al Zarooni credits Sheikh Mohammed with making the call to run Encke.
"To be honest, it was His Highness' decision to run here today," al Zarooni said. "I disagreed and thought we should not. He was right. His Highness and I always disagree but His Highness is always right."
Crisford described Encke's credentials.
"Encke has a fantastic pedigree and is a horse that has always been forward," the racing manager said.
"We put a line through his last run in the (Group 2 Great) Voltigeur, which was a false-run race," Crisford added of his third-place effort on August 22 at York.
"Mickael Barzalona has given the horse a superb ride and put the race to bed when he kicked on at the two-furlong pole. There was a question about Encke's stamina, but in the end he has stayed it well.
"From the furlong pole to the finish, I thought Camelot was never getting to us."
Al Zarooni was a little more worried about Camelot's punch.
"I thought Camelot would catch us as I remembered the way he quickened in the (Group 1 Two Thousand) Guineas and in the (Group 1) Derby," the trainer said. "I saw the other horses were tired and I knew Encke was tough and would keep going."
Barzalona was aware of Camelot's traffic issues in upper stretch.
"I knew Camelot was behind on the inside and could see he had difficulty navigating," Barzalona said. "I asked my horse to go and he went very quickly.
"I won very nicely. Today Encke was the best."
Barzalona, who won last year's Group 1 Derby aboard Pour Moi, was earning his first St Leger win.
"I am very happy," Barzalona said. "The St Leger is a very good race in England and this is my second classic now."
Al Zarooni was also registering his first St Leger victory, as Godolphin's previous quintets were all trained by Saeed bin Suroor.
"We have been trying to win this classic," al Zarooni recounted. "Two years ago we ran Rewilding and last year we ran Blue Bunting who were both favorites (and finished sixth). Today we have won it with an outsider. Racing can be a funny game.
"It is a big thing to win a classic -- it is different to winning just any Group 1 race," al Zarooni added. "I am thrilled to have won my second classic in England after Blue Bunting (in the Group 1 One Thousand Guineas) last year."
"We may be party poopers today but on this occasion we are happy to be party poopers," Crisford summed up. "It is fantastic result for the whole team involved with the horse."