Spte. 3 (UPI) -- Ghalyyath's performance Sunday at Baden Baden in Germany raised Godolphin's hopes for a run at the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in a startling highlight of weekend horse racing round the globe.
Some potential 2-year-old stars were on display in England and Japan.
To sighs of relief all around, Hong Kong's racing season opened on a positive note and without incident despite the challenging times there.
Ghalyyath, a 4-year-old Dubawi colt racing under Godolphin blue, put on a show of force in Sunday's Group 1 Longines Grosser Preis von Baden in Germany's Black Forest spa resort. With William Buick up, Ghalyyath quickly took the lead and never looked back, opening up in the final furlongs to win by 14 lengths. Donjah beat the others, finishing 4 1/2 lengths to the good of Laccario, the favorite. Communique, a Mark Johnston trainee who was second in the Group 1 Grosser Preis von Berlin in his previous start, was eased when distanced and finished last.
Ghalyyath, out of the Galileo mare Nightime, raced only once last year, winning a Group 3 event at Longchamp Nov. 22. He started this season with a victory in the Group 2 Prix d'Harcourt over the same course, finished third in the Group 1 Prix Ganay and then was put away until Sunday's race.
The victory puts him squarely into the picture for the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, which is shaping up, as usual, to be quite the race as Enable bids for an unprecedented third straight win.
It's time to start thinking about the young ones in Japan and it looks like Gold Ship's first crop might be worthy of some attention. Black Hole, a Gold Ship colt who scored his second straight win -- at odds of nearly 30-1 -- in Saturday's Grade 3 Sapporo Nisai Stakes. With Yukito Ishikawa up, Black Hole rallied from well back entering the final turn, swung widest of all and found a late burst of speed to get home first by 1 1/4 lengths over Satono Gold, another by Gold Ship. The favorite, Darlington Hall, was third. Black Hole ran 1,800 meters on good turf in 1:50.4.
Galileo is the gift that keeps on giving for the lads at Coolmore and the latest gift might well be a colt named Mogul. The full brother to Japan was a well-beaten second in his career bow at Gowran Park Aug. 14 but, as often is the case with Galileo offspring, he improved dramatically for the experience, posting his first victory Aug. 30 at the Curragh. With Ryan Moore up, Mogul was in command all the way and won by 5 1/2 lengths. The victory no doubt was a relief to the lads and trainer Aidan O'Brien. Coolmore gave more than $4.6 million for him at last year's Tattersalls October yearling sale. The colt was produced by Shastye, a Danehill mare with a sterling record as a broodmare.
Sunday's season-opening program at Sha Tin Racecourse drew a crowd of 68,272 and produced some US$163 million in wagering despite what Hong Kong Jockey Club CEO Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges called "challenging times".
Months of pro-democracy demonstrations around Hong Kong have scrambled transportation and other infrastructure, led to confrontations with police and forced sporadic closing of the HKJC's off-track wagering facilities.
"We know that we are in challenging times here in Hong Kong," Engelbrecht-Bresges said. "But I found it very encouraging to see the positive energy that was created at the racecourse today. We have got the first race meeting off the ground with a positive start and that emphasizes the strong support we have from our fans. I would also like to thank our staff for their dedication to make this happen," the CEO said.
Engelbrecht-Bresges admitted he was "really surprised" at the attendance at the big track in the New Territories, which he noted was similar to the 2017 opening-day crowd. "I hope this shows Hong Kong racing is strong and we hope we can continue with this positive momentum," he said.
The Hong Kong season runs through June and includes 12 international Group 1 races. The highlights are the Longines Hong Kong International Races Dec. 8, with four top-level tilts, and the FWD Champions Day April 26 with three. The BMW Hong Kong Derby on March 22 is the key date for locals.