Peter Snowden farewells his latest offering of horseflesh to his Dubai benefactor this week with a tinge of sadness and a hope for redemption.
Leading the group of up to six horses is Saturday’s Group One Patinack Farm Classic winner Mental who will spend the northern winter in Dubai before being prepared for next June’s Royal Ascot meeting and other major sprints.
To Snowden, the desire of his boss Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum, the ruler of Dubai, to take some of his Australian team to race abroad is a tribute.
But Snowden says he still feels some embarrassment over the performances of his star colts Sepoy and Helmet who he took to Dubai last season.
Both ran well below their best at the World Cup meeting in March when they raced under Snowden’s name.
They fared no better in their only starts in England for Godolphin trainers Saeed bin Suroor and Mahmood al Zarooni.
But the man who took them to a lofty peak in Australia felt acute disappointment.
“On World Cup night in Dubai I was feeling that low I could have run under a snake’s belly,” Snowden said.
Snowden is well aware that such things aren’t uncommon in racing, and fortunately so is Sheikh Mohammed.
“He was the first one to come to me and say that it’s happened to him a million times,” Snowden said.
“But it was still difficult.”
There have been consolations, however, for the Snowden team with the success of some of the stable’s less-highly credentialled exports.
Soul, a Group Two winner over Buffering at Flemington two years ago, went to Dubai last year and won first time out and has since scored a Group Three win in England.
Retrieve, a Group Three winner at Rosehill and the runner-up in the 2010 Spring Champion Stakes at Randwick for Snowden has won twice in England, most recently in a Listed race at Newmarket in September over the well-performed Harris Tweed.
The experience of last season’s expedition leads Snowden to believe Mental is the right horse for Europe and that he is leaving Australia at the right time.
“Going there now and giving him a nice, long, slow prep and then taking him to England in June or July is an absolutely perfect scenario for him,” he said.
“Sepoy and Helmet went there in early March and were racing a couple of weeks later.”
Also booked on the trip are last year’s VRC Derby runner-up Induna, Ambidexter and Detours.