Dettori's diamond sparkles

LAMMTARRA, the Derby winner who cheated death, crowned his brief, but illustrious, career with a sparkling triumph in yesterday's King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes. The courageous chestnut colt dug deep in the short Ascot straight to overhaul Pentire in the last half- furlong and win a thriller by a neck.

And in taking the great prize, he earned Jeremy Noseda, one of the key players in Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin training team, a potentially greater reward. After wel- coming his winner, the Sheikh announced that he is to set Noseda up in his own training yard with 35 horses in Chantilly next season.

Lammtarra, who won last month's Derby under Walter Swinburn on only his second career run, emerged as 9-4 favourite just before the off. Frankie Dettori, replacing Swinburn, kept the three-year-old towards the back of the field as Broadway Flyer set a sensible gallop, shadowed by Strategic Choice.

As the runners swung into the straight Michael Hills brought Pentire wide, full of running, and let him go on fully two furlongs out. But Dettori had his measure, and the battle for middle-distance supremacy began. Pentire gave everything, but Lammtarra, with a target to aim at, had more, and the day - and the pounds 278,000 prize - was his.

The four-year-old Strategic Choice proved the best of the older generation, keeping the Irish Derby winner Winged Love out of third place by a head, with Broadway Flyer the same distance back in fifth. Last year's Arc winner Carnegie, on ground faster than ideal for him, beat only Environment Friend.

The reception given to the winner was somewhat muted; Swinburn's "jocking- off' Lammtarra, who runs in the colours of Mohammed's nephew, during the week had caused some raised eyebrows and accusations of disloyalty. But the Sheikh pointed out that Dettori, who was poetry in motion in the finish, is one of his stable jockeys.

The biggest cheer of the day went to the Italian as he sprang from Lammtarra's saddle. There is no animosity between him and his weighing-room colleague, for he said: "I spoke to Walter about the horse, and he told me all he knew. He told me to be bold, for whatever I asked for he would find. I knew I had Pentire off the bridle a furlong out, and mine got down to his job like a very, very good horse. 90 per cent of his body is heart."

It was a first King George for Dettori, who went on: "I got a little nudge coming into the straight, which swung us a little wide, but I let him keep his momentum. And the further we went the better he was. There have been doubts about the Derby form, but no more."

Lammtarra, whose sire Nijinsky won the King George 25 years ago, will now be rested before a tilt at the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in October. He spent last winter at the Godolphin headquarters in Dubai and there contracted a lung infection which put not only his racing career in the balance. Sheikh Mohammed said: "For a while it was touch and go whether he lived. But he is a very brave horse."

From a star of the present to one of the future. Three-quarters of an hour before Lammtarra's win, the two-year-old Blue Duster confirmed she might be really special with an effortless victory in the Princess Margaret Stakes. Sheikh Mohammed's filly is now a top-priced 12-1 favourite with William Hill and Ladbrokes for next year's 1,000 Guineas. She is trained by David Loder, in Newmarket; her winter quarters have yet to be decided.

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