Global Weekly Preview: A landmark weekend in the making for Godolphin

J A McGrath

If the Richard Hannon-trained Barney Royinfo-icon can rise to the occasion at Sandown Park (UK) and Saeed bin Suroor's Thunder Snow steps up once more at Chantilly, Godolphin can mark one of its most important weekends globally with a G1 double of great significance.

There is no escaping the fact that James Cummings sending out his first runners for Godolphin in Australia signals a new era for His Highness Sheikh Mohammed's stable in a thriving racing environment still with the potential for growth.

Cummings is a fourth generation trainer, and when saddling Prized Icon to win the G1 Victoria Derby at Flemington last November, he followed his great-grandfather (Jim), his grandfather (Bart) and father (Anthony) in training the winner of the premier Classic.

Low-key his first day may be -- Warwick Farm and Kembla Grange are a million miles from Randwick and Flemington -- but it will be his first few weeks in the job that sees the important groundwork for the Spring established. On this score, his timing is impeccable.

Cummings' first day as a Godolphin trainer will be long over when Barney Roy attempts to beat the older horses in the G1 Eclipse Stakes at Sandown Park, one of Britain's toughest testing grounds.

Jockey James Doyle remains confident Barney Roy will stay a mile and a quarter, judging by the way he galloped through the line in the G1 St James Palace at Royal Ascot. A further reason for confidence on the stamina issue is that his dam is by Galileo.

It is noteworthy that five of the nine runners in this Eclipse are from the Classic generation.

In theory, a good three-year-old has an advantage at the weights over the older opposition at this time of the year, and Barney Roy is in a position to capitalise on that.

Cliffs Of Moher (2nd) and Eminent (4th) both ran with credit in the G1 Investec Derby at Epsom and, as dangers, are preferred in that order, while Ulysses, 3rd in the G1 Prince Of Wales's Stakes, is also worthy of respect.

On Sunday, Saeed bin Suroor sends Thunder Snow to Chantilly, with excellent prospects of landing the G1 Prix Jean Prat.

Thunder Snow is a tough and durable UAE Derby winner, having already been saddled up this year in Dubai, America, Ireland, Britain, and now France. It would be an appropriate reward if he could lift the G1 prize.

The unbeaten Trais Fluors, trained by Andre Fabre, will provide spirited opposition, though he is stepping straight out of G3 company to the highest level.

Finally, the talented Watershed runs at Belmont (USA), in the G2 Suburban Handicap, over a mile and a quarter, one of New York's most historic contests.