Salute the Soldier (Ger) (Sepoy Aus) captured the second group race of his career in the G2 Al Maktoum Challenge Round 2 at Meydan on Thursday. His win interrupted a Godolphin streak, as the royal blue was first past the post in three of the five races carded for Thoroughbreds on the day.
The Alan Spence-bred settled in a tracking third as Capezzano (Bernardini) showed the way on the front end. However, Salute the Soldier sidled up to the pacesetter’s outside and stuck his neck in front late on the back straight. Capezzano punched back and those two continued to exchange blows around the far turn. Still locked together at the quarter pole, Salute the Soldier inched away from a stubborn Capezzano 300 metres from home. As the wire neared, the Fawzi Nass trainee started to tread water, but held on to win by a length from the closing Thegreatcollection (Saint Anddan). Ajuste Fiscal (Uru) (Ioya Bigtime) completed the trifecta 3/4 of a length back in third. Capezzano hung gamely on for fourth a neck behind.
“It went to plan, I expected Capezzano (Bernardini) to lead and I wanted to sit in second,” said jockey Adrie de Vries. “My horse started to get a bit racy, but I needed to react, and I could give him a blow on the turn to fill him up again. We hit the front soon and he always just does enough, he was getting very tired in the end and he was entitled to, I think we went fast, riding a bit deep. This is a big point for us, maybe we can go for the big one [G1 Dubai World Cup] with this horse. He needs to step up, I think he would have learnt a lot today. He is a funny horse and was late to mature, and not easy to train, and there is still room for improvement.”
Third in the Listed Dubai Duty Free Cup S. at Newbury in September of 2019 in the colours of Mr. and Mrs. P. Hargreaves and Alan Spence for trainer Clive Cox, the bay was knocked down for 380,000 guineas to Oliver St Lawrence Bloodstock later that fall at the Tattersalls Autumn HIT Sale. Transferred to the Fawzi Nass barn for new owners Victorious, he promptly rewarded his new connections with a handicap win in his Meydan debut last January. Fourth to Thursday’s G2 Al Rashidiya victor Zakouski (GB) (Shamardal) in the G2 Zabeel Mile on Feb. 20, Salute the Soldier captured his first group race, the G3 Burj Nahaar on Super Saturday in 2020. Coming off a 285-day break, the gelding returned with a fourth in the Listed Dubai Creek Mile behind re-opposing rival Thegreatcollection on Dec. 17, and went one better in the G2 Al Maktoum Challenge R1 on Jan. 21.
Salute the Soldier counts as one of 21 black-type winners, 11 at the group level, for Gone West-line stallion Sepoy. His best progeny to date has been the Godolphin filly Alizee (Aus), a winner of the G1 Queen of the Turf S., G1 Futurity S. and G1 Flight S. Salute the Soldier is his second Group 2 winner after G2 German 1000 Guineas heroine Unforgetable Filly (GB).
By far the best foal produced by the unraced Street Fire (Ire), Salute the Soldier is one of five winners from seven to race. His dam’s latest offspring is a yearling filly by Iffraaj (GB). The 6-year-old gelding’s third dam is French listed winner Danzante (Danzig), who was also placed five times at group level in France and America and threw GI Eddie Read H. hero Monzante (Maria’s Mon), as well as French stakes winner Alpha Plus (Mr. Prospector), second in the G3 Prix La Rochette. Danzante was one of five black-type winners for SW Bold Captive (Boldnesian), chief among them GI Breeders’ Cup Classic hero Skywalker (Relaunch).
Thursday, Meydan, DubaiAL MAKTOUM CHALLENGE R2 SPONSORED BY EMIRATES AIRLINE-G2, $293,000, Meydan, 2-11, 3yo/up, 9 1/2f, 1:57.37, fs.1–SALUTE THE SOLDIER (GER), 126, g, 6, by Sepoy (Aus)1st Dam: Street Fire (Ire), by Street Cry (Ire)2nd Dam: Firedrake, by Kris S.3rd Dam: Danzante, by Danzig(380,000gns HRA ’19 TATAUT). O-Victorious; B-Alan Spence(GER); T-Fawzi Nass; J-Adrie de Vries. $175,800. LifetimeRecord: 20-7-5-3, $672,317. Werk Nick Rating: A+. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.2–Thegreatcollection, 126, g, 7, Saint Anddan–Cactus Cadillac,by Cactus Ridge. O-Zaur Sekrekov; B-Kathleen Amaya,Alexandro Centofanti & Raffaele Centofanti (FL); T-DougWatson. $58,600.3–Ajuste Fiscal (Uru), 126, c, 4, Ioya Bigtime–Braid (Arg), byStorm Surge. O-Stud La Pomme; B-La Concordia (URU);T-Antonio Luiz Cintra Pereira. $29,300.Margins: 1, 3/4, NK.Also Ran: Capezzano, Firnas (GB), Quip, Blown By Wind (GB), Dubai Warrior (GB), Mootasadir (GB). Scratched: Mark of Approval.Click for the Racing Post chart or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree. VIDEO.