Godolphin's Dubawi stormed down the middle of the Deauville course Sunday to record a decisive victory in the Prix Jacques le Marois (Fr-I) and shatter the unbeaten filly Divine Proportions' nine-race winning streak.
With Kerrin McEvoy handling the riding chores for the injured Frankie Dettori, the 3-year-old son of Dubai Millenium took command with a furlong to run in the one-mile event, turning back the furious charge of last year's winner Whipper by 1 1/2 lengths in a mild upset. Queen Anne Stakes (Eng-I) victor Valixir finished third, another three-quarters of a length behind, while the brilliant Divine Proportions, the 5-6 favorite, struggled home fourth, beaten by five lengths.
Sheikh Mohammed, whose feelings for the late sire Dubai Millenium are well known, was overjoyed by Dubawi's triumph. He told Racing Post
, "This victory means the world to me. Dubawi has followed in the footsteps of Dubai Millennium, who is now producing progeny in the same class." Dubai Millennium won the Marois in 1999 in one of his greatest races.
Dubawi, who prefers ground with some give to it, won the Irish Two Thousand Guineas (Ire-I) at The Curragh May 21 but was third when stretched too far in the Epsom Derby (Eng-I) June 4.
"I was telling people before this race that Dubawi could cause a surprise as he has been very well but did work a little flat last weekend," Sheikh Mohammed told Racing Post
. "He went very well last Wednesday and not only looks like his father but he has his heart. Dubawi is a real champion.
"Now we will be looking at all the top mile races and for good ground, not a road. Obviously the Breeders' Cup Mile (Gr. IT) is a possibility."
Dubawi's stablemate Council Member and Semarang set a strong pace in the straight mile with Dubawi and Divine Proportions tracking the leaders in third and fourth, respectively. McEvoy brought Dubawi, sent off at odds of 10-3, to the head of matters with two furlongs remaining, the colt showing a good turn of foot from well out on the course to take control.
Divine Proportions lacked a response and never mounted a serious challenge as her half-brother Whipper took up the chase. Whipper drew close but was turned back by the winner a furlong from home. Valixir stayed on well for third but was having problems handling the ground for Christophe Soumillon, who complained afterward about the condition of the course.
Godolphin's racing manager Simon Crisford gave full credit to Sheikh Mohammed for planning the tactics of the race after they walked the course to find the best ground. "We took the race to Divine Proportions," he said. "This success has been a huge pleasure."
Trainer Saeed Bin Suroor brought Dubawi his third group I victory 2 1/2 months after the colt failed to stay behind Motivator at Epsom.
McEvoy, who had to keep his mount straight in the closing stages, won his first group I race in France.
"I've been very lucky to be able to ride such fantastic horses, and it was tough for Dubawi after the Derby," he said. "It's fantastic to be with Godolphin."
Whipper didn't have the power to catch Dubawi after a strong rally under Olivier Peslier.
"He came with a great late run, and I really thought we would win at the furlong marker," said trainer Robert Collet. "He proved once again he is a top-class horse."
A downcast Pascal Bary said of Divine Proportions, "I am very disappointed. She had a good position, and she was travelling well; but when the jockey asked her to quicken, she didn't have her usual kick."