Arc trial is tailor made for Monsajem

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The Independent Online

The sun may be hot, but it never seems to evaporate all the hyperbole in Dubai. The burghers in the Emirates have recently taken to referring to their 'hood as the City of Gold.

The sun may be hot, but it never seems to evaporate all the hyperbole in Dubai. The burghers in the Emirates have recently taken to referring to their 'hood as the City of Gold.

Now, while it may be true that they do knock out quite a lot of the stuff in souks and higher class emporiums in the Gulf, the place itself is actually made of concrete, glass and tarmac, plus a generous layer of sand. So, do not be fooled by the title of the opening race at Newbury this afternoon, the Dubai City Of Gold Maiden Stakes.

It would be easy too to imagine that the Dubai Arc Trial was rather a grand name for a Listed race. While it may not be easy to see any of this afternoon's nine runners in the 11-furlong contest duelling with Montjeu and Sinndar at Longchamp, that is not say they will not go on to greater glory. After all, 12 months ago, Fantastic Light beat the previous year's Derby winner, High-Rise, in this, and then went on to finish runner-up in the Coronation Cup and King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes this season, as well as winning the Man O' War Stakes at Belmont Park on Saturday.

Diamond White is an interesting runner here. Mick Ryan's mare was fourth in the Beverly D at Arlington Park and supposedly on course for an American campaign before a return to the land of monarchy. She has prospects, as does the massive Pawn Broker, who was third in the September Stakes at Kempton with Reach The Top a place behind. The best option though looks to be the course-and-distance winner MONSAJEM (nap 3.40), who came back to form at Haydock last time and is at his best when there are leaves on the ground. He needs water in it too if he is to take his chance.

The best advice today, obviously selections apart, is to suppress any desire to cross the racetrack at around 2.45. It would be the last stroll of your life. It should be a quite awesome sight this afternoon when 11 of the country's best snarling sprinters come crashing down the course. If you want to end it all, either Eastern Purple, Rudi's Pet or Repertory will perhaps be the first to reach you, but the one for whom the race will be run is Andreyev (next best 2.40), who will be able to come off the searing pace.

The Haynes, Hanson and Clark Stakes is an annual occasion for nostalgia. Past fields for the race have included Shergar and Shahrastani, both of whom won the Derby, Rainbow Quest (Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe), King's Theatre (King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes), Unfuwain, Snurge (St Leger) and, more recently, Daliapour, this season's Coronation Cup winner, and Millenary, last Saturday's St Leger victor.

Among those entrusted with continuing the high station of the race this year are Nayef, a filly by Gulch and half-sister to Nashwan and Unfuwain, and Fair Question (3.10), a Rainbow Quest half-brother to White Muzzle. He has already won on his debut, and nicely too.

There were eight horses declared yesterday for tomorrow's Irish St Leger at the Curragh, including Chimes At Midnight, who was third in the Doncaster original on Saturday. The strong British challenge includes Mutafaweq, who will attempt to give Godolphin their third consecutive win following the dual exploits of Kayf Tara.

There is injury news from Ireland as Hemingway, favourite for next year's 2,000 Guineas, will miss tomorrow's Prix de la Salamandre at Longchamp. "Hemingway has an infection in a hock and his blood wasn't right," Aidan O'Brien, the trainer, said yesterday. "He'll have a week off now."

O'Brien will nevertheless be represented in the Group One race by Honours List and King Charlemagne, who joins the Prix Morny winner Bad As I Wanna Be (Brian Meehan), Tobougg (Mick Channon) and the sole French runner, Wooden Doll (Criquette Head).

There are absentees too from tomorrow's Ayr Gold Cup. The ground is considered too soft for Gerard Butler's well-fancied Compton Banker, who will now go instead for the Diadem Stakes at Ascot a week on Sunday. Toby Balding's Duke Of Modena, a 16-1 shot, cannot be guaranteed a place at the racecourse stables by the Ayr executive, so the trainer has told them that his horse will not run.