In an impressive surprise to his season debut, Prince Bishop blazed to a track record victory in the $250,000 Al Maktoum Challenge-Round 2 (UAE-II) Feb. 6 at Meydan Racecourse.
Dismissed at 17-1 odds in North American pools, the 7-year-old son of Dubawi held back the closing rush of 7-2 co-favorite and stablemate African Story after taking charge around the turn and won by a handy 1 1/4 lengths under Kieren Fallon. He covered 1,900 meters (about 1 3/16 miles) in an all-weather track record time of 1:55.67. The mark eclipses the previous record of 1:56.09.
Prince Bishop capped three successive wins on the day for trainer Saeed bin Suroor, who captured the United Arab Emirates One Thousand Guineas with Ihtimal and the subsequent Nova Stakes with Excellent Result, both owned by Godolphin and ridden by Silvestre De Sousa. Prince Bishop started in the name of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed al Maktoum, a son of Godolphin founder Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum.
Bin Suroor earned his 10th win in the race, a springboard to the $10 million Dubai World Cup (UAE-I) next month.
Artigiano took charge early in the Al Maktoum Challenge and opened a clear lead, with Empire Storm, Prince Bishop, and last year's winner Hunter's Light tracking from second, third, and fourth respectively. Prince Bishop moved swiftly with Fallon to take charge around the turn and opened a two-length into the stretch before extending his advantage to four midstretch.
Bursting ahead of 14 other opponents in a bid to challenge, African Story cut into to that lead in a determined rally from near the back of the field, but could not get to the winner.
"I like this horse and I think he has more to offer," Fallon said of Prince Bishop, who notched a fifth stakes victory and third in a group event while taking his career record to 8-1-3 from 22 starts.
"I really thought I went for home too soon and he was getting a bit tired and a bit lonely but luckily we hit the line in time," Fallon added. "It was a good performance and a great result for the yard."
Zambucca kicked from mid-division to take third, four lengths behind African Story. One-paced in the final furlong, Hunter's Light, also at 7-2 odds, finished fourth for Godolphin, another 1 1/4 lengths back.
Prince Bishop was third behind Hunter's Light in last year's Round 2 and Round 3 of the Al Maktoum Challenge before finishing unplaced in the Dubai Sheema Classic (UAE-I) onthe grass on Dubai World Cup night. After a break, he came back to win the 1 1/2-mile September Stakes (Eng-III) on the all-weather at Kempton. Returning on heavy ground conditions at Newbury Oct. 26, he finished eighth in the St. Simon Stakes (Eng-III) to conclude the season.
Bred in Ireland by Thurso Ltd., Prince Bishop is out of the Prospect Bay mare North East Bay. In addition to the September Stakes, he was triumphant twice in group company in France as a 3-year-old in 2010, winning the Prix du Conseil de Paris (Fr-II) and Prix du Prince d'Orange (Fr-III) for Godolphin.