Dubai dirt star Midnight Sands joins Brendan Walsh on Breeders’ Cup mission

Horse Racing Midnight Sands
Midnight Sands: now in training in America. Photo: Dubai Racing Club/Erika Rasmusssen

By Jon Lees

USA: Midnight Sands, a prolific winner on the dirt in Dubai, has gone into training in the United States to see if he can establish himself as a Breeders’ Cup contender.

Over two campaigns under Doug Watson, the four-year-old has won the last five of his six starts at Meydan and was a leading fancy for the Godolphin Mile in March until the Dubai World Cup meeting was cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Owned by the British-based Cool Silk Partnership, headed by Peter Swann, he has now joined the stable of Brendan Walsh in the US with a view to being campaigned towards the Breeders Cup Dirt Mile.

“Midnight Sands has been with Brendan Walsh for the last week to ten days,” said Swann. “What we had really planned was to run in the G2 in Dubai with Doug Watson but after that was cancelled we came up with a secondary plan to get him to the States because of his liking for a dirt surface.

“He improved hugely in Dubai. I think he is rated 108 now so I think it is worth him having a go in the States to see if he can win a graded race. 

“We always like to think big,” added Swann. “That approach has taken us to some great places and if he can prove himself then he could be ideal for the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile. 

“He would still have to adapt to that fast style of racing but he was in great shape in March and we thought he would have had a great chance of winning the Godolphin Mile. Previously he ran a very fast time over seven furlongs, the fourth fastest ever for Meydan I think, so I don’t think there is anything for him to fear.”

Midnight Sands, a son of Speightstown bred by Flaxman Holdings, ran three times on turf in Britain – including in the 2018 Coventry Stakes when trained by James Given – before being switched to Watson.

The colt will be the first horse to be trained in the US owned by Cool Silk, a family partnership of Swann, his mother-in-law Barbara Wilkinson, wife Karin and two sons. Their best-known horses have been Sands Of Mali, winner of the G1 Qipco British Champions Sprint in 2018, and 2016 Royal Ascot winner Prince Of Lir.

“We took Sands Of Mali to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf after he won the Gimcrack,” said Swann. “Mendelssohn won it but Masar was also in what turned out to be an amazing race. I think if Sands Of Mali had stayed he would have won. He was only beaten three lengths.

“We got the bug from that but it’s all about having the right horse. Midnight Sands showed a modicum of ability on turf but he has really taken to the dirt, he has the right pedigree so it seemed a sporting bet to see if we can get him to the Breeders’ Cup.”

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