A race known as the Bahrain Trophy was staged as a seven-furlong three-year-old only handicap up until the 1991 season, when a new contest carrying that title was established. The Bahrain Trophy, as we now know it, was inaugurated that year as an extended mile-and-three-quarters Listed race for three-year-olds.
In 2006, the race distance was shortened to a mile and five furlongs. The Bahrain Trophy was awarded Group Three status ahead of the 2009 season.
The contest has been won by some notable performers, the pick being 2006 victor Youmzain and the classy stayer Persian Punch, successful a decade earlier.
The Mick Channon-trained Youmzain landed the spoils by a length from Jadalee. On his next start, the colt defeated subsequent Breeders’ Cup Turf hero Red Rocks when winning the Group Two Great Voltigeur Stakes at York and added the Group One Preis Von Europa. Youmzain established himself as a top-class middle-distance performer over the next three seasons, winning the 2008 Group One Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud, as well as finishing runner-up in the 2007, 2008 and 2009 renewals of the Group One Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and the 2008 and 2009 runnings of the Group One Coronation Cup.
Persian Punch, one of the most popular horses of recent times, was noted for his front-running displays but in the 1996 Bahrain Trophy the strapping gelding was held up before taking the lead inside the final furlong and striding on to victory for trainer David Elsworth. The Jeff Smith-owned Persian Punch won 20 races across eight seasons, including the Group Two Goodwood Cup (2001 & 2003), Group Two Doncaster Cup (2003), Group Two Prix Kergorlay (2000), Group Three Henry II Stakes (1997, 1998 & 2000) and the Group Three Jockey Club Cup (2000, 2002 & 2003) at Newmarket.
Smith’s colours were also carried to victory in the 1995 Bahrain Trophy thanks to the classy Grey Shot. The versatile gelding went on to win the Group Two Goodwood Cup (1996), Group Three Prix Lutece (1995) and Jockey Club Cup (1997), before going on to further success in hurdle races and chases. The owner’s third and most recent triumph came when the Elsworth-trained Gold Medallist made all in 2003.
With three wins apiece, Henry Cecil and John Dunlop have enjoyed more success in the Bahrain Trophy than any of their peers. Cecil saddled Jendali to victory in 1991 and followed suit with Group Two Geoffrey Freer Stakes winner Red Route (1994) and Tranquil Tiger (2008). Rain Rider defeated Group Two Great Voltigeur Stakes winner Bonny Scot to give Dunlop his first success in 1992. The Arundel handler also triumphed with Kahtan and Cephalonia.
Donegal, trained by Andrew Balding, saw off his rivals in a close finish to the 2008 renewal. The colt subsequently went down by a head in the Group Three Gordon Stakes at Goodwood next time. His conqueror that day was the subsequent St Leger, King George Vi & Queen Elizabeth Stakes and two-time Grade One Breeders’ Cup Turf victor, Conduit.
Kite Wood landed the spoils for Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor in 2009, giving the current leading jockey in the race, Frankie Dettori, his fourth success. Kite Wood added the Group Three Geoffrey Freer Stakes next time before finishing a close second in the Group One St Leger. The colt annexed the Group Two Prix Vicomtesse Vigier at Longchamp on his four-year-old debut in 2010.
Pictured: Andrew Balding