Godolphin eye yet more Group 1 glory with Blair House and Kementari in Melbourne

Charlie Appleby with Cross Counter, and on the right, Blair House and Kementari who are both hoping for glory on Saturday. (Godolphin)
Updated 09 November 2018

Godolphin eye yet more Group 1 glory with Blair House and Kementari in Melbourne

  • Blair House and Kementari both stand good chances of victory on Saturday.
  • Godolphin still basking in the glory of Cross Counter's Melbourne Cup victory.

LONDON: Having finally won the Melbourne Cup you would think Godolphin would be happy with their lot, but the Dubai-based stable has its sights set on more Group 1 glory in Australia on Saturday. 

Cross Counter memorably came first in the “race the stops a nation” on Tuesday to end a 20-year wait for Godolphin and a 30-year wait for the team’s owner Sheikh Mohammed. That only served to underline the great season the “Boys in Blue” are enjoying, having reached 600 winners for the season at the end of October — when the stable’s highest total, 650, was registered in 2015, the 600-winner mark was reached on 12 Nov.

The week in Melbourne can, however, get even better with Blair House and Kementari both having great chances in the Mackinnon Stakes and Sprint Classic respectively. 

“It has been an incredible week, an experience I will never forget,” Godolphin trainer Charlie Appleby said. 

“The number of congratulatory messages, emails and slaps on the back I have received in the last few days should be enough to last a lifetime.

“Best of all, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed is thrilled by the Cup win. He has sent his best wishes and thanks to all the team in Australia, and it will be an honour to take the Cup to Dubai to present to him,” he said.

Victory with Blair House in the Mackinnon Stakes, a race with a rich tradition, would be the icing on the cake for Appleby’s team.

“He is a horse who has kept on improving, and as he came out of the Caulfield Stakes so well, this was an obvious target. He’s had four weeks between runs, and often fresh legs are the most effective at the end of this week,” he said.

While Blair House has the form to claim Group 1 glory, Kementari, although winless since March, certainly has the potential to end that drought in the Group 1 VRC Sprint Classic.

"He's a beautiful colt and he's got a ripping finish," Cummings said on Friday. "I really see him as one of the horses capable of winning this race but it's a race full of depth too and he's going to have to be at his best to beat these horses."

Cummings said it was easy to hide behind poor luck, but he said it was time that Kementari made his own way in a race rather than be dictated to by misfortune.

"We need to see him make some of his own luck and we need to see him get up and win of one of these Group 1s like he did in the Randwick Guineas when he just looked fantastic that day," Cummings said.

Afghanistan claim first Test win with victory over Ireland

Updated 29 min 16 sec ago

Afghanistan claim first Test win with victory over Ireland

  • Asghar Afghan's men beat Irish by seven wickets in only their second Test.
  • Rahmat Shah's second half century eases side over the 147-run target

Afghanistan notched a historic maiden win in only its second Test match when it defeated Ireland by seven wickets in the one-off Test.
Needing 118 runs, Rahmat Shah scored his second half century of the match and Ihsanullah Janat made 50 in his debut test as Afghanistan reached 149 for three just before lunch on the fourth day.
“It was our dream to play test cricket and today we won a test match so I am very happy for Afghanistan and its people,” Afghanistan captain Asghar Afghan said.
“I want to give credit to the bowlers, especially Rashid Khan, Waqar (Salamkheil), Yamin (Ahmadzai) and (Mohammad) Nabi because the wicket was good for batting.”
Leg spinner Rashid claimed the match haul of seven for 102 and played the Test match while nursing his injured spinning finger.
It was only the second test match for both countries since gaining test status in 2017. Afghanistan lost its inaugural test against India last year before Pakistan went on to beat Ireland.
Man-of-the-match Shah, who missed out on the century in the first innings before falling for 98, played another splendid knock of 76 with 13 fours before he got stumped when Afghanistan required only three runs for victory.
Janat was equally good in scoring an unbeaten 65 off 129 balls as both batsmen dominated Ireland bowling with attacking shots during their 139-run match-winning stand.
Ireland had an early opportunity to break the stand but Shah was dropped on 19 by Stuart Thompson in left-arm spinner George Dockrell’s second over of the day after Afghanistan resumed on 29-1.
Although Mohammad Nabi missing Afghanistan’s winning moment on the field when he got run out, Hashmatullah Shahidi got the winning runs when he pulled James Cameron-Dow to the square leg fence off his first delivery.
Ireland captain William Porterfield saw his team’s first-innings effort of 172 as the prime reason for the defeat as Afghanistan replied strongly with 314.
“In any multi-day game, we had to capitalize on the first innings. If we’d done how we’d done in the second innings then, it could have been a completely different game,” Porterfield said.
Ireland fought back in the second innings by scoring 288, thanks largely to the last-wicket half century stand between Cameron-Dow and Tim Murtagh that set up Afghanistan’s target of 147 runs.
“Credit to Afghanistan, they outplayed us ... and once Afghanistan got past us in the first innings, it was always going to be hard,” Porterfield said.