Soft Whisper taking Saudi Derby plunge

Saeed bin Suroor has explained his thinking behind taking on the boys in the Saudi Derby this weekend with his exciting filly Soft Whisper – who will have the assistance of American riding great Mike Smith.

A seven-length winner of the UAE 1000 Guineas last time out, the daughter of Dubawi has skipped the seemingly easier option of the UAE Oaks this week to make the short journey to Riyadh.

She will arrive in Saudi on a five-timer – but faces a stern rival in the shape of Charlie Appleby’s Rebel’s Romance, among others.

“She won well in the Guineas so we’re going to let her take her chance in the big race in Saudi,” said Bin Suroor.

“We’ll see how she does in a race like that. She’s done well since the Guineas, she’s in good form and we want to see how she gets on against the better horses.

“By running her in this we’ll see how good she is.

“After this we have the option of running her in the UAE Derby, that’s another option after this race.

“She’s exciting, we’re looking forward to seeing her run.”

On jockey arrangements, Bin Suroor said: “We booked Mike Smith because he was coming over (to ride Charlatan in the Saudi Cup) and he was available.

“Obviously if you can get a jockey like him, you do. Frankie (Dettori) is riding (New Treasure) for Mr (John) Gosden.”

Bin Suroor eyeing big-race opportunities for Soft Whisper

Saeed bin Suroor is considering options in Dubai and Saudi Arabia for his exciting filly Soft Whisper.

Runner-up on her first two starts in Britain last season, the daughter of Dubawi made it third time lucky at Salisbury in August before following up at Pontefract the following month.

She has taken her game to another level since arriving in Dubai this winter – making a successful dirt debut in the UAE 1000 Guineas Trial at Meydan shortly after the turn of the year, before producing a brilliant display in the UAE 1000 Guineas itself under Frankie Dettori.

Bin Suroor said: “She is entered in the UAE Oaks and also the Saudi Derby. She’s in both races and we will keep options open.

“She is a good filly and unbeaten in Dubai. She won the Guineas Trial and also the Guineas under Frankie. She won both races really well and has come back good from her last race.

“We’re looking forward to the future with her.”

In the immediate aftermath of his filly’s latest triumph, Bin Suroor mooted the Kentucky Oaks in America and even the European Classic races as potential long-term targets.

He added: “We’ll go step-by-step with her and see how she runs in her next race.”

Soft Whisper far too good for UAE Guineas rivals

Saeed bin Suroor won the UAE 1000 Guineas for the 12th time as Soft Whisper fairly bolted up at Meydan.

Ridden with extreme confidence by Frankie Dettori, the Sea The Stars filly was even more impressive on this occasion than in the trial three weeks ago.

Content to get a lead until just before the turn into the straight, as soon as Dettori gave his mount an inch of rein, she cruised into the field and pulled further and further clear to win by seven lengths.

Dettori said: “She missed the kick last time, but jumped really good today. I was always in position A and in control.

“When I kicked, she went, it was as simple as that really. I didn’t have to do much and she’s got a bright future.

“Saeed has mentioned everything – Saudi, the UAE Oaks, the UAE Derby – when they win so impressively you can get excited.

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“I just said to Saeed, the last time I won on one as easy as that was probably Dubai Millennium, so it only took me 21 years to win on one as easy, but we have big hopes for her. She might not have beaten much, but you couldn’t help but be impressed.

“We’ll take it one step at a time, nothing tested her today, so it would be wrong of me to say how good she is until she faces better competition.”

Bin Suroor said: “She got confidence when she won last time. She was blowing really hard after it, she needed it, she wasn’t really fit enough but still won.

“She worked really nicely a week ago, the trial put her spot on for this. She’s improving all the time and the trip is fine.

“We’ll keep options open, obviously the UAE Oaks and even the Derby are possible, we’ll speak to Sheikh Mohammed. She’s a filly for the future really.

“We’ll enter her in the Kentucky Oaks and think about the European Classic races.”

Dettori might not have needed to do much on Soft Whisper, but he timed his run on Bedouin’s Story to perfection in the Longines Spirit Collection Trophy.

Charlie Appleby and James Doyle teamed up to win the Cape Verdi at Meydan for the third successive year as Althiqa came from last to first to win impressively.

Following on from the victories of Poetic Charm and Magic Lily in the last two years, the four-year-old filly was backing up a successful season in Europe.

Althiqa was a winner at Newmarket last year
Althiqa was a winner at Newmarket last year (Hugh Routledge/PA)

She won a Listed race in France as well finishing placed in three Group Three events, but was having her first outing for over 140 days.

That mattered little with Doyle settling her right at the rear as Summer Romance and Stunning Beauty ensured a stiff pace.

The latter soon dropped away and Summer Romance was tired in the final furlong, as first Roger Varian’s Stylistique and then Althiqa swept by for a stylish win.

Godolphin dominated the Listed Zabeel Turf with the first six home all sporting the royal blue silks, headed by the unexposed Ya Hayati.

Not seen since being well beaten in the Golden Gates Handicap at Royal Ascot, Mickael Barzalona came with a late run down the outside to beat Bright Melody and Star Safari, with all three trained by Charlie Appleby.

Soft Whisper books UAE 1000 Guineas ticket

Soft Whisper led home a one-two-three for trainer Saeed bin Suroor in the UAE 1000 Guineas Trial at Meydan.

The daughter of Dubawi overcame a slow start to comfortably land the spoils in the hands of Pat Cosgrave, with her stablemates Last Sunset and Final Thought second and third respectively.

Jumeirah Beach broke well from the stalls and set a good early pace while Soft Whisper had to be rousted to get a decent position after her tardy beginning.

However, she was well-placed at the top of the straight and asserted over a furlong out to win by two and a half lengths, with three and a quarter lengths back to Final Thought.

“She jumped slow from the gate, but her class saw her win well,” said Bin Suroor.

“Halfway in the race she was travelling nicely and that is what she shows us in the morning when she works.

“She’s a nice filly, twice a winner in England. When she came to Dubai in October she wasn’t in her best condition, but in November and December she improved physically and works well in the morning.

“I like her. She’s a strong, big filly now. The next targets now are going to be the Guineas and the Oaks after we speak to Sheikh Mohammed.

“She will get the trip, no problem.”

Bin Suroor was also happy with the runs of Last Sunset and Final Thought.

“Nine furlongs will be no problem for them. They are nice fillies and will improve and in time will be better,” he said.

Cosgrave said of the winner: “She did everything wrong tonight. She flopped out of the gates. I didn’t have a great run round and had a harder race than I wanted to.

“She will learn plenty today and will be a better filly next time.

“It took me to the 100 (metre) marker down the back to pull her up, which is always a good sign. I was confident going into tonight that she’d win and I think, with a cleaner run, she’d have won a lot further.”