Racing: Dalakhani steps out of big brother's long shadow

The burden of family expectation can be heavy and unfair one; just ask Nayef, for instance, who has had to work hard to become more than Nashwan's young brother. Yesterday at Longchamp another colt with a celebrated sibling showed that he, too, may have talent out of the ordinary and although Dalakhani's road will be a long one if he is to earn favourable comparison with Daylami, his early steps along it have been deeply impressive.

In the Prix de Chenes, a Group Three contest over a mile in the Bois de Boulogne, Dalakhani followed his eyecatching win in a Deauville maiden with a ritual slaughter of his four rivals, all of them winners last time out. Alain de Royer Dupre's charge settled the matter in three strides as soon as Christian Soumillon asked him to cruise to the front in the straight and came home, easing down, by two and a half lengths from Mister Charm.

The sole British raider Balin's Sword, one of Brian Meehan's best youngsters, could never get competitive and trailed in last.

Dalakhani, like Daylami, is an Aga Khan-bred; the pair share their dam Daltawa and the same spear lineage. The younger horse's sire, Darshaan, is a grandson of Mill Reef; Daylami's sire, Doyoun, is a son of the great champion runner and progenitor. They also share their grey coats, although Dalakhani's, at this stage of his life, is still nearly black in hue. But after yesterday, he can no longer be regarded as a dark horse with next year's Classics in mind.

In a swift switch from the banks of the Seine to those of the Rhine, other Continental action during the afternoon concerned the gallant veteran Yavana's Pace, who became the oldest ever to win a Group One race in Europe in Cologne last month.

But his return to the German track at the same level for the Preis von Europa yielded only a third place this time. As is his wont, the Mark Johnston-trained 10-year-old set off defiantly in front but was collared by Salve Regina and then winner Well Made to go down by three lengths. The Godolphin representative Narrative, who pulled hard early, finished fifth.

The Canadian International at the weekend may still be on Yavana's Pace's agenda despite the defeat. "He had an abscess in a foot on Wednesday and we had to do a bit of a rush job to get him here," said Johnston, "but I am not making excuses."

The Middleham trainer revealed that his three-year-old star Bandari was also under veterinary care, having a check-up at a Newmarket practice after emerging from his St Leger third place in below-par form.

Europe's next round of Group One races is at Ascot on Saturday, where the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and Fillies' Mile form the centrepiece of the Berkshire course's high-class three-day autumn festival.

Any rain this week should ensure queues at the gate; Aidan O'Brien is responsible for eight of the 25 entries for the QEII, and although the enigmatic Hawk Wing will be the Ballydoyle No 1 if dry weather continues, it is his charismatic stablemate Rock of Gibraltar, who copes better with a soft surface, who will bring in the crowds.

Rock Of Gibraltar, who is currently on a record-breaking streak of seven consecutive Group One wins, has run in the colours of Sir Alex Ferguson since he bought a half-share from Coolmore last year. Funfair Wane, who got home by a neck in one of the season's most competitive handicaps, the Ayr Gold Cup, on Saturday, is owned and was bred by Kevin Keegan and his wife Jean.

Perhaps the two managers' success as owners is an allegory of the fortunes of Manchesters United and City but there would be no betting as to which man gets more pleasure from his involvement with horses.

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