Racing: Byron's surge rescues the Godolphin ideal

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The Independent Online

A rare moment of mercy came from the grinding Godolphin machine at Goodwood yesterday when the featured Lennox Stakes was allowed to slip from the gnarled hands of Frankie Dettori, who was on board Kheleyf for the Group Two contest.

A rare moment of mercy came from the grinding Godolphin machine at Goodwood yesterday when the featured Lennox Stakes was allowed to slip from the gnarled hands of Frankie Dettori, who was on board Kheleyf for the Group Two contest.

The prize did not, however, pass too far down the food chain. It was gobbled up by the Dubai team's alleged second string, Byron, the mount of Kerrin McEvoy. It is a comment on Godolphin's almost disturbing strength this year - the era of the Cold War with the Ballydoyle and Coolmore axis seems temporarily at an end - that their back-up animal for big races is usually a horse of the highest calibre in itself.

So it was with Byron, who was always moving well, almost poetry in motion in fact, as Naahy cut out the pace, just in advance of Vanderlin and Trade Fair. This was probably the end of the line for the last-named in terms of establishment as a proper horse. It now seems that Trade Fair will never reach the heights once entertained for him.

Certainly, Roger Charlton's colt looked rather ponderous yesterday as Byron made the decisive surge from around a furlong and a half out. Suggestive finished swiftly and Kheleyf battled on, but the damage had been done. At the line, McEvoy was three-quarters of a length to the good.

"It's great to ride these Group winners wherever you are, especially when you are part of Godolphin, with these nice horses," the Australian jockey said. "They have all got chances.

"Kheleyf can be a bit of a character, and my horse ran well in France when he was placed. He didn't have a lot of luck at Ascot. I thought dropping back to seven furlongs would be ideal for him. The race suited him and he enjoyed himself." Simon Crisford, the Godolphin racing manager, added: "He ran a huge race in the French Guineas [when third] and suffered from the 'bounce' factor in the St James's Palace Stakes. That race probably came a little bit too quick for him on the back of a really hard effort in France.

"Seven furlongs is his best trip and he's well up to Group Two standard, as we saw when he won the Mill Reef last year. He's a quality colt. He's not very big, but he's all heart."

Godolphin, who are represented by Refuse To Bend in this afternoon's Sussex Stakes, were even kinder in yesterday's St Leger trial, the Gordon Stakes, giving away a whole Group race. The trophy did not actually pass outside the family however, as it was taken by Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum's Maraahel, who is now a 7-1 chance to fill a Classic blank for Sir Michael Stoute at Doncaster in September.

The 9-4 chance was always going the sweetest for Richard Hills and once he had gone past the windbreak of Mikado and Massif Central three furlongs out only the places remained up for grabs. "He was always travelling like a winner," Hills reported. "He also quickened, which will put him in good stead at Doncaster."

The remaining pattern race, the Molecomb Stakes, went to Tournedos, a statement which would not have readily come to mind a furlong out in a contest over the minimum distance. Tournedos was last and trapped on the rail before Ted Durcan indulged in a piece of speed escapology. Mick Channon's colt was sent on an angling drive around the outside of his field and popped up close home to deny Mary Read.

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