Bahri to swell the numbers

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The Independent Online
IT MAY seem odd that the man lying second in the trainers' championship table has sent out nearly 10 times as many winners as the leader. The explanation is that the title is decided by prize money, and the pounds 720,000 netted by John Dunlop's 68 winners is pounds 500,000 behind Saeed Bin Suroor's seven.

It was Dunlop who provided Sheikh Mohammed with his first success in Britain, the filly Hatta in 1977, and the Maktoum family has supported him ever since. Nowadays the yard's mainstay is one of the other Maktoum brothers, Hamdan, with around 40 horses. And on Wednesday at Goodwood one of the bearers of his blue-and-white colours, Bahri, can make some inroads into Bin Suroor's lead by taking the five-day meeting's feature event, the pounds 88,000 Sussex Stakes.

Bahri staked his claim to being the best three-year-old around at a mile with a deeply impressive performance under a positive ride in the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, and can stake his claim to the overall championship by repelling the older generations in Goodwood's Group 1 contest.

The greatest threat may come from another Royal Ascot winner, the four- year-old Nicolotte, who showed his best when dropped back to the mile of the Queen Anne Stakes. The five-year-old mare Sayyedati, Sussex runner- up two years ago and fourth last year, was unplaced that day, but had no run at all, and looks good place value. She wants fast ground; any change in the going would favour the Godolphin first string, Vettori, who needs it soft.

Goodwood is Dunlop's local course, less than nine miles as the crow flies from his Castle Stables, and he is on its board of management. It also holds many special memories for him, notably Posse's 1980 Sussex Stakes win. Like Bahri, he had finished third in his 2,000 Guineas.

The first winds of autumn may be felt on Tuesday with the running of the Gordon Stakes, the first of the recognised St Leger trials. Running plans are still fluid, but if Old Vic's half- brother Bobinski makes the trip from Andre Fabre's winner factory at Chantilly, he should be too strong for the home side.

The Goodwood Cup on Thursday sees the reappearance of the Ascot Gold Cup hero, Double Trigger, and even though he steps down in distance to two miles, this exciting, classy stayer, who is being groomed for a tilt at the Melbourne Cup in November, should prevail.

The two big betting events are the Schweppes Golden Mile on Thursday and the six-furlong Stewards' Cup on Saturday. In the former, Dunlop's Beauchamp Jazz should find the strong pace he needs, Michael Stoute's Knave's Ash will be suited by the drop back to eight furlongs after just lasting home over 10 at Doncaster, and the Mark Johnston-trained Celestial Key did well from a poor draw at Newmarket in the Bunbury Cup. But Desert Green will be suited by the sharp course, the fast ground and the distance, and looks each-way value.

The Stewards' Cup is always a full-scale cavalry charge between the best sprint handicappers. Hard To Figure would be an appropriate winner for this type of race and it has been Espartero's target since he beat Double Quick at Ascot, but Master Of Passion may be low enough in the weights to record a big win for James Eustace.