SPIRIT DANCERSpirit Dancer © Steven Cargill/Racingfotos.comEurope

Three Group winners in two days for Frankel

Friday's meeting at Meydan saw the start of  a superb run of results for Frankel's progeny, with English Rose winning the Gr.2 Balanchine. She was followed the next day by Military Order at Southwell and Spirit Dancer at the Saudi Cup meeting.

Taken from the Thoroughbred Daily News, 24th & 25th February 2024, by Heather Anderson and Tom Frary:

Godolphin and Frankel were represented by the first two home in the Gr.2 Balanchine at Meydan on 23rd February. English Rose was two and a half lengths to the good of the more fancied Sapphire Seas at the end of the 1800-metre turf affair. Content to race in midfield as Stenton Glider battled for the lead with Shining Jewel to her outside down the backstretch, the first quarter was covered in :25.03. Shining Jewel applied more pressure on the bend, while tracked by Sapphire Seas, as English Rose relaxed in fourth. The leaders looked vulnerable with a quarter-mile to travel, and English Rose was within a length and closing fast, as Sapphire Seas made her bid to her immediate left. English Rose was moving the better of the two, however, and forged to the front to win handily under Michael Barzalona. Nibras Angel was third by three lengths.

"We went a good gallop and my filly travelled well from the beginning," said Barzalona after his first win in this race. "It went well for us as the horse to beat was just in front of us. Maybe she was a bit fitter today."

The trainer of the pair, Charlie Appleby added: "Mentally she's come forward as she was a bit keen first time out. She had the race under her belt and this is probably her ideal trip. We haven't quite firmed up a plan for these fillies yet. This filly could join [Cape Verdi winner] Silver Lady on a trip to America for the Keeneland meet in April."

The following day another Charlie Appleby trainee, Frankel four-year-old Military Order, also went on to claim his first Group win in the Gr.3 Winter Derby at Southwell. The full brother to Derby winner Adayar had it all slot into place in the Winter Derby, staged for the first time over 11 furlongs and shifted from Lingfield to Southwell. Always comfortable off the pace set by Godolphin's 2021 winner of this race Forest Of Dean, the 9-4 second favourite had first run on the 5-4 market-leader Lord North heading to two out and had the extra stamina and a fitness edge to make it count by a length.

Jockey Danny Tudhope explained: "I rode Military Order in the trial for this, when he travelled great into the race and got there too easily. I was keen to ride him a bit quieter today and not get there too soon. I got him running at the leaders and he put his head down when he hit the front. We got racing a long way out and he is a lovely, big horse with a nice, big stride."

Less than an hour later, Richard Fahey-trained Spirit Dancer made a fantastic run up the straight at King Abdulaziz Racecourse to take the Gr.2 Neom Turf Cup for his second win at this level. When the gates opened, Spirit Dancer was a touch keyed up, and was forced to sit three off the fence in midfield as Jack Darcy cut out the running while feeling the heat from Luxembourg, who was ridden forward from the widest alley. Relaxing into a nice rhythm on the backstretch, Spirit Dancer was able to edge a bit closer to the inside, but still had at least six horses to pass on the far turn.

Ryan Moore asked Luxembourg to tackle the leader 400 metres from the wire, while Spirit Dancer swung toward the centre of the track for his bid. He soon gobbled up ground, blew past Luxembourg inside the final furlong and withstood the closing rushes of Killer Ability to his inside and Calif to claim his third group race in good style.

"It's fantastic, after Bahrain you come here and look at the field, the performance from Oisin [Orr] and the horse and Richard, it's unbelievable," said joint owner Sir Alex Ferguson. "Richard made the point he hasn't had a lot of racing, and I think we see the evidence today. Oisin said this morning horse the is improving all the time. I took a gamble a few years ago with a stud in Hemel Hampstead and the results have been very good. That puts his win in Bahrain [in the Gr.2 Bahrain International Trophy] in perspective. Richard gave us confidence but it is one of these things, you are never too confident."

Fellow owner Ged Mason added: "It's like a dream, I have to pinch myself. For Richard to produce him and win as easy as he did, he was like a steam engine. Sir Alex had a dream this morning and dreamt he'd win."

"We'll send him back to Dubai, said Fahey of future plans. "We'll see how he is in the morning but it's hard not to go back to Dubai. I'll be shocked if he doesn't line up in something on World Cup night. Always in my mind I wanted to stretch out to a mile and a half but I don't want to make any decisions tonight. Any horse that goes on the international scene, becomes a people's horse, and he's got a huge fan base - the lad that has a share in him has something to do with that! As trainers we don't really understand what it means to people and to see the enjoyment gives me huge pride. He gets his head down and gallops to the line."