Soft Falling Rain Bids to Defend Godolphin Mile Crown in Hot Renewal

Sheikh Hamdan’s Star Faces Godolphin’s Talented Shuruq in US$1m Race

When winning the $1million Godolphin Mile sponsored by Meydan Sobha, 12 months ago the Mike De Kock-trained Soft Falling Rain (SAF) became the first three-year-old to win the Group 2 1600m all-weather contest.

This year, the HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum-owned runner, who also won last year’s UAE 2000 Guineas, attempts to become the third horse to record consecutive victories in this race.

He has had one run so far this season, over an inadequate 1200m on Super Saturday and will appreciate the return to 1600m. He is also well drawn this year, which he certainly was not 12 months ago.

De Kock said: “He was badly in need of his sprint outing on Super Saturday and as I have said all along, bearing in mind he will be busy in Europe after this, Super Saturday and Dubai World Cup night were his two planned outings.

“We have a good draw this year, unlike 12 months ago, and he should be competitive.”

The maximum field of 16 have been declared, including Godolphin’s Shuruq (USA), winner of last year’s UAE Oaks and twice a course and distance winner this season.

Winner of the 1600m Group 2 first round of the Al Maktoum Challenge on the opening night of the 2014 Dubai World Cup Carnival, she also won the Group 3 Burj Nahaar on Super Saturday.

Her trainer, Saeed bin Suroor, is seeking a 12th victory in the race and he said: “She won last year’s UAE Oaks and has two course and distance victories to her name this season. She just loves this all-weather surface and is a far better filly on it than turf.
“It is another tough race but she is tough and remains in great form.”

Soft Falling Rain is not the only South African-trained runner in the field and is joined by dual South African Horse Of The Year, Variety Club (SAF). A course and distance winner on his local debut, he found Shuruq too strong on Super Saturday and, if to gain revenge, he has to overcome stall 15.

Trained near Abu Dhabi by Ernst Oertel, Capital Attraction (USA) was third in that Super Saturday contest and should be competitive if able to get across from his draw in 12.

Oertel said: “We would have preferred a lower draw but he is in good form and tough so, with a bit of luck, should have a chance in a competitive race.”

Flotilla (FR), winner of the Group 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies’ Turf in 2012 and last year’s French 1000 Guineas, disappointed on her local debut in the Cape Verdi but was a good second in the Balanchine on her one subsequent outing.
If adapting to this new surface, she should go well for Mikel Delzangles.

Utopia won this for Japan in 2006 but their representative this year, Brightline (JPN), is another with a wide draw.

Forjatt (IRE), winner of the Group 3 Jebel Ali Mile for Dhruba Selvaratnam, was fourth to Shuruq on Super Saturday, while Gabrial (Ire), Eastern Rules (Ire), Elleval (Ire) and Gold City (Ire)all managed to win at the 2014 Dubai World Cup Carnival.

Fifth in this in 2012, the Ali Rashid Al Raihe-trained Haatheq (USA) chased home Soft Falling Rain last year when looking set to score with 200m to run. He too is owned by Sheikh Hamdan.