Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid al Maktoum's unbeaten colt Soft Falling Rain was one of the most exciting runners at the 2013 Dubai World Cup Carnival. He will get the first major test of his career in the $1 million Godolphin Mile Sponsored by Etisalat (UAE-II) March 30 at Meydan on the Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) undercard.
The speed-loving South African star scored two tour de force victories at the Carnival for trainer Mike de Kock, most recently winning the United Arab Emirates Two Thousand Guineas (UAE-II) by 2 1/4 lengths from charging Snowboarder Feb. 14. A champion in his native country, the National Assembly colt made a sensational international debut at Meydan Jan. 17 in a trial for the Guineas, overwhelming 13 overmatched rivals in a front-running 2 1/2-length triumph.
A Southern Hemisphere 4-year-old, Soft Falling Rain has strung together six wins from as many career starts. The U.A.E. Two Thousand Guineas, the first race of the United Arab Emirates Triple Crown, was run at about a mile and his connections believe the distance is about as far as his speed can carry him. With distance ability a concern, he bypassed the 1,900 meter (about 1 3/16-mile) United Arab Emirates Derby (UAE-II) two races later on the Dubai World Cup card.
"This is certainly his toughest task ever and a very big test indeed against his elders but he certainly deserves his chance in this company and we are really looking forward to it because we are going to find out just how good he is," de Kock said. "He has so much speed, the 1,600 meters is as far as he wants to go, but he goes well on the surface and we have freshened him up.
"However he fares, he will be off to England where the tracks should really suit him."
Sheikh Hamdan has three other runners in the Godolphin Mile, including 9-year-old veteran Barbecue Eddie, a former U.S. graded stakes performer and a fan favorite at Meydan. Trained by three-time U.A.E. champion trainer Doug Watson, the Stormy Atlantic gelding won the Al Maktoum Challenge Round I (UAE-II) at a metric mile Jan. 10 at Meydan.
Soft Falling Rain is one of a trio of runners in the Godolphin Mile representing de Kock, who won the race in 2005 with Grand Emporium. He also sends out U.A.E. group I winner Master of Hounds, looking for a first win in four starts since capturing the International Topkapi Trophy (Tur-II) last summer, and Rerouted, an English group III winner who had two wins at the Carnival this year.
Godolphin's Moonwalk in Paris, a French group III winner last season, looks to be among the main challengers. The 5-year-old Oratorio horse, trained by Mahmood Al Zarooni, won the Firebreak Stakes (UAE-III) by two lengths March 9 at Meydan and followed up with a third to Dubai World Cup hopeful African Story in the Burj Nahaar (UAE-III), both at about a mile.
Godolphin has four runners overall, including Alpha, a 4-year-old Bernardini colt who finished in a dead heat for first in last year's Travers Stakes (gr. I). Seeking his first win in three starts since then, he makes his second start at Meydan for trainer Saeed bin Suroor.
Zabeel Racing International's Surfer, a 4-year-old Distorted Humor collt, cuts back in distance after good efforts in two rounds of the Al Maktoum Challenge in February and March. He finished second to early Dubai World Cup favorite Hunter's Light in the group II edition of the race February and fourth to behind him at the group I level on March 9.
$1,000,000 Godolphin Mile sponsored by etisalat (UAE-IT, race 2, approximate post time 9:10 a.m. EDT) 4YONH&UP, 3YOSH&Up, one mile, turf
Post, Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1. Alpha, S. DeSousa, S. bin Suroor
2. Mufarrh, K. Fallon. A. Al Raihe
3. Red Jazz, R. Moore, C. Hills
4. Time Prisoner, M. Barzalona, M. Al Zarooni
5. Zazou, K. Ulubaev, W. Hickst
6. Surfer, R. Mullen, S. Seemar
7. Sarkiyla, C. Lemaire, A. De Royer-Dupre
8. Master of Hounds, C. Soumillon, M. de Kock
9. Rerouted, W. Marwing, M. de Kock
10. Haatheq, R. Ffrench, A. Al Raihe
11. Penitent, D. Tudhope, D. O'Meara
12. Capital Attraction, T. O'Shea, E. Oertel
13. Soft Falling Rain, P. Hanagan, M. de Kock
14. Saamidd, W. Buick, S. bin Suroor
15. Moonwalk in Paris, A. Ajtebi, M. Al Zarooni
16. Barbecue Eddie, P. Dobbs, D. Watson
All horses carry 57 kilograms (125.6 pounds), except for filly Sarkiyla and Southern Hemisphere 3-year-old Soft Falling Rain, who each carry 55 KG (121.25 pounds)