2018 Epsom Derby hero Masar was foaled on 16 April 2015, sired by Epsom Derby and dual Champion Stakes winner New Approach out of the Cape Cross mare Khawlah. Bred in the purple, much was expected from the Godolphin two-year-old colt on debut in May 2017. In a six-furlong novice event at Goodwood, he was sent off the 5/2 favourite for the Charlie Appleby team and duly got up to win by a head from Invincible Army, a horse that went on to win at Group 2 and 3 level.
Racing Career to date
It didn’t take long for trainer Charlie Appleby and Godolphin to realise they had a proper racehorse on their hands in Masar. He was swiftly thrust into Listed class, finishing third in the Chesham Stakes at Royal Ascot in June 2017 behind Aidan O’Brien’s September and Mark Johnston’s Nyaleti.
After a 70-day break, he returned to action in the Group 3 Solario Stakes at Sandown and took the first prize, coming home two lengths clear of subsequent Irish 2000 Guineas winner Romanised under James Doyle. An international raid beckoned next for Masar in chase of Group 1 glory but the trip to Chantilly proved fruitless as he could finish only third in the Prix Jean-Luc Lagadere on Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe day behind the Aidan O’Brien-trained Happily.
A trip to Del Mar in November 2017 for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf was next on the agenda for Masar, but again he was foiled by the all-conquering Ballydoyle stable. This time it was future UAE Derby winner Mendelssohn who took Group 1 honours, with Masar finishing three lengths behind in sixth.
Like many Godolphin horses, Masar made his three-year-old debut at Meydan, finishing a very disappointing 10th of 13 runners in the Listed Al Bastakiya Stakes, a trial for the UAE Derby. As a result, he ended up going off a relatively unfancied 7/2 shot to land the Group 3 Craven Stakes at Newmarket. However, William Buick opted for new tactics and made all of the running, quickening away from future Group 1 winner Roaring Lion to win by nine lengths in a blistering display.
That victory thrust Masar into 2000 Guineas contention and he went off the 5/2 favourite to win the Newmarket classic on May 5, 2018. Despite travelling strongly into contention, Masar was outpaced in the final furlong and could only finish third behind Ballydoyle’s Saxon Warrior and Tip Two Win for the Roger Teal team.
Jockey William Buick told the Charlie Appleby team after the Guineas that Masar would improve for a step up in trip and the plan would work to devastating effect.
Masar was trained towards the Epsom Derby over 12 furlongs on June 2, 2018, and would take on former foes in Saxon Warrior and Roaring Lion in the big race. He was posted wide in stall 10, a traditionally tricky draw which meant he was unlikely to get a run on the rails in what is a tough course to navigate.
However, Buick patiently waited with Masar (16/1) throughout the opening mile of the 12-furlong contest, sitting just seventh as they entered the final three furlongs. From here, the trip was an unknown for the Godolphin horse.
While the likes of Roaring Lion and Saxon Warrior wilted in the final two furlongs, Masar was eating up the ground on the outside, staying on to claim the lead with a furlong to run and was well in command at the finish, seeing off Mark Johnston’s dour stayer Dee Ex Bee, Roaring Lion and odds on favourite Saxon Warrior only back in fourth. The margin of victory was a comfortable one-and-a-half lengths.
That victory was a first British Classic for Charlie Appleby, handing the Godolphin team yet another Group 1 prize and over £850,000 for the win. It was the first Epsom Derby success for a horse running in the famous blue silks.
Masar now appeared to have all the big summer middle-distance targets at his mercy, and was being targeted towards the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown in early July when he sustained a leg injury. He would not race again in 2018, but Godolphin confirmed he would be kept in training as a four-year-old in 2019 and a full recovery was expected.
Masar’s reappearance and entries
After over a year out of racing due to that leg injury, Masar returned to the track at Royal Ascot 2019. After the Group 1 Prince of Wales’s Stakes was initially mooted, Appleby opted instead for the slightly easier Group 2 Hardwicke Stakes over the Epsom Derby distance of 12 furlongs.
After stumbling out of the gates and nearly unseating James Doyle, Masar (3/1) impeded Czech Republic raider Nagano Gold before settling in midfield but taking a wide trip throughout.
He made headway around the final bend to come up into a dangerous position but faded in the final furlong to only finish fifth behind Roger Varian’s Defoe, the aforementioned Nagano Gold as well as Mirage Dancer and Morando.
Godolphin were pleased with that comeback run and now Masar has early entries in the Coral Eclipse at Sandown, the Princess of Wales’s Stakes at Newmarket, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot and Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.
Of those targets, the King George - to be held back at Ascot on July 27, 2019 - looks the most suitable at Masar’s optimum trip and at the track where he had his seasonal reappearance. As a long-term target, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in October 2019 could be the plan before a run back at Meydan in the Dubai Sheema Classic in March 2020.
Here at The Winners Enclosure, we will have all the news and confirmed runners for all the major Group 1 flat and national hunt races in the days leading up to the race. That will go alongside our selections from our experienced team of experts and tipsters.
Who owns, trains and rides Masar?
As a key member of the Godolphin team, trainer Charlie Appleby splits his time between Marmoon Stables in Dubai during the English winter and returns to his Moulton Paddocks base at Newmarket for the remainder of the year. The likes of Masar, based in Dubai over the English winter, are mainly prepared for the Dubai World Cup Carnival which takes place at Meydan Racecourse between January and March each year.
Godolphin use James Doyle and William Buick as their retained jockeys in the UK and as a result, they ride the majority of horses for Charlie Appleby. Masar has only been ridden by that pair as a result, with Buick taking the mount in seven of his 10 races, including that famous Epsom Derby triumph.
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