Al Dasim Giving Boughey ‘Quoz’ For Optimism

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES — From the very beginning, young trainer George Boughey has made one thing quite clear–when the opportunity presents, he wants to travel horses to play the game on the international stage at the very highest level.

At this time last year, Sheikh Abdullah Almalek Alsabah’s Al Dasim (Ire) (Harry Angel {Ire}) was about a month away from making an early-season debut; twelve months on from that somewhat disappointing fifth when favoured in a five-furlong maiden at Leicester, the chestnut colt will be one of the choices to give Boughey a victory at one of the world’s greatest and richest race meetings in Saturday’s $1.5-million G1 Al Quoz Sprint at Meydan.

“It’s great. I’ve been pretty outspoken about the fact that this is what we want to be doing,” Boughey said. “The UK is very much our base, but if we want to be running horses, we’ll span the world when we can. I’ve got a super team of guys who take the horses wherever they go. The horse makes the job very easy, but to have runners around the world, you have to have enormous trust in your staff for doing the job that you asked them to do. And I have that so I’m hugely grateful for that.”

Boughey Steps In

Boughey is at least equally thankful that he was given the chance to take over the training of Al Dasim, bred by Skymarc Farm and a £50,000 purchase by Sheikh Abdullah from the draft of Tony O’Reilly’s Hollyhill Stud at the 2021 Goffs UK Premier & Silver Yearlings Sale.

The chestnut, whose third calendar birthday doesn’t come until Apr. 11, was runner-up in a Salisbury novice event in two starts for Clive Cox and graduated a couple of runs later in a Windsor maiden after being transferred to Kevin Philippart de Foy. He was turned over to Boughey after finishing unplaced in the Listed Prix de la Vallee d’Auge at Deauville last August.

“I’d trained for Sheikh Abdullah before and we were lucky enough to be the recipient of a handful of horses and he was one of them,” said the conditioner, who has about 10 horses for Sheikh Abdullah. “[Sheikh Abdullah]’s got a string of horses out in Saudi Arabia at the moment, obviously not far away from his local Kuwait.”

Runner-up in a nursery handicap at Haydock in his first appearance for Boughey last September, Al Dasim took a pair of starts back-to-back over the Wolverhampton all-weather, including a November novice with a whopping 144 pounds on his back, and the stage was set to broaden his horizons.

“It’s been a plan for [Sheikh Abdullah] for a long time to try and have some horses in Dubai,” Boughey said. “When he came to me, for me, I thought he was a fast-ground horse. He’d been tried on slower ground before and I was pretty keen that if he did show enough ability, that we’d take him to Dubai. So it was later on in the year, but he needed to prove to me that he was good enough to be a horse who was going to be competitive. I wasn’t going to take him unless he was. And he’s very good. He won under a double penalty at Wolverhampton. I just wanted to go and see him carry a big weight and try and win well and he did exactly that. Just before that race, [Dubai] was the plan, and then obviously it came to fruition when he won.”

Hitting The Road

Dubai is not for every horse, but Al Dasim has actually come on for his time in the Emirates, Boughey suggests.

“Yeah, he’s done very well,” he said. “Ryan King, my sort of head man out there, he’s been in charge of him and he’s been riding him every day. He’s a horse who was a little bit fractious when we first got him, and he seems to be relaxing each week. I thought at the time that we had him in a good mental state and that he’d be able to handle training on the track. And actually, I think, having seen him train out there, I think he’s almost thrived for it. He’s actually done a lot of work on the dirt, and I’m not saying he’s going to run on the dirt immediately, but it would be no surprise if he did end up in Dubai next year. Then we might try him on the dirt as well as the turf.”

For now, it’s been the lush Meydan grass where Al Dasim has made a name for himself. Taking full advantage of the opportunity to face his peers early during the Dubai World Cup Carnival, he ran strong times in winning conditions events in January and February over the straight six furlongs, which came as little surprise to his connections.

“On just official ratings alone, he looked liked he was clear of certainly the colts out there in the sprint division,” said Boughey. “So as long as we could have him in good condition as well, then I thought he’d be a horse who’d be very hard to beat out there, having seen the pool of horses he was going to run against. But I didn’t really ever…you know, obviously the programme is Super Saturday and the Al Quoz was obviously there. But he’s certainly had to go and prove his merit to be in the race and he certainly did that.”

A Super Saturday Star

It is one thing to go and beat up on your peers, it’s an entirely different ball of wax stepping a 3-year-old up to tackle older rivals as early as March. But Al Dasim did just that last time in the G3 Nad Al Sheba Turf Sprint. Drawn low on the oft-disadvantageous far side, he nevertheless raced prominently, took over from pacesetting Miqyaas (Ire) (Oasis Dream {GB})–previously winner of the G2 Blue Point Sprint S. over the minimum trip–and went on to score by 2 1/4 lengths beneath Mickael Barzalona.

“I think the speed that they go in the older races is very different,” said Boughey. “The tempo of race is different to what he’s ever encountered before. And as a horse whose traveled very well against his own age and I did hope that he would step up, and it was nice to see him do it. But he was taking on some 6-, 7-,8-year-old sprinters who are hardened, good performers. Obviously it will be a massive step up again on World Cup night, but I’ve got no reason to suggest that he’s out of place and he goes there in great shape.”

Boughey is taking it race-by-race with Al Dasim, but has a plan in mind for the near to mid-term, with the G1 Commonwealth Cup back against 3-year-olds at Royal Ascot in June the likeliest target.

“He’ll probably get an entry in the [G1] King’s Stand [S.] as well, being open to 3-year-olds, whereas the [G1] Platinum Jubilee S. isn’t,” the trainer said. “Ascot I think is almost tailor-made for him, you know? It’s a faster track on the flat track than at Meydan. I think that stiff finish will suit him well and you can ride him for a turn of foot. He’s entered in the [G1 2000] Guineas at Newmarket, but at this stage I’d be very surprised if he’s stepping up to the mile. He’s showing a lot of pace from the get-go, he’s an old-school winner over the minimum trip of five furlongs and being by Harry Angel, I don’t see any reason to stretch him at this stage.”

George Boughey is clearly excited about the challenge that awaits around a quarter past five local time Saturday.

“I’m looking forward to it and it’s a pretty special place, Meydan. I’m looking forward to seeing it full of people,” he said.

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