Racing: Dubawi's victory earns Derby favouritism

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The Independent Online

Sheikh Mohammed, Dubai's crown prince, will have rested easily on the throne yesterday when Dubawi won the National Stakes at the Curragh.

Sheikh Mohammed, Dubai's crown prince, will have rested easily on the throne yesterday when Dubawi won the National Stakes at the Curragh.

Ostensibly it was just another success in just another Group One race for what has become a yawning acceptance of glory from the Dubai racing household, but Dubawi is more than just a single, galloping package of promise. As a son of the quickly deceased and brilliant Dubai Millennium, he is like a prince on a pillow, the one on which greatness has been invested. For now, Dubawi is following a slippery accession.

The National Stakes has often proved a pointer to the following season's Classics and in recent years has been won by such high-class performers such as Desert King, King Of Kings, Sinndar, Hawk Wing and Refuse To Bend. Judged on his display in yesterday's renewal, Dubawi could possesses the ability to carry on the pattern.

Frankie Dettori always appeared confident on the unbeaten Godolphin colt as he tracked Russian Blue, but the Italian latterly evaluated the pace and sent the 8-13 favourite to the front with two furlongs to run. Dubawi jinked to his right after colliding with fresh air, but was soon back on an even keel and had three lengths to spare over the staying-on Berenson at the line. Ladbrokes reacted by promoting the winner to 10-1 favouritism for the Derby, while making him a 14-1 chance for the 2,000 Guineas.

"That was brilliant, absolutely brilliant," Simon Crisford, the Godolphin racing manager, said. "A great moment for Godolphin, a son of Dubai Millennium winning his first Group One. It's magical. Dubai Millennium's brilliance lives on.

"Dubawi is a very good horse - a top-notch horse - who has probably done enough for the year. He'll stay a mile and a half next year and he's got the speed to win a Group One at two over seven. That performance has established him as a serious Classic prospect for next season, there is no doubt about that, and we'll see where we go when we get back from Dubai.

"Frankie said they couldn't go fast enough for him today, they didn't lead him for far enough. Sheikh Mohammed had indicated beforehand that he probably wouldn't want to run him again this season after today whatever the outcome.

"He's matured since he ran at Newmarket, but as you saw today, he was a lot more focused. At Newmarket he took quite a long time to get into top gear but here he got going pretty quickly when Frankie asked him."

Dettori himself did not rubbish the potential legend. "He was just being a bit cheeky with me. He likes to have company, he likes to have a fight," the jockey said. "They went a good gallop and he travelled like a good thing, so a furlong and a half out I set him alight, he went two clear, he looked at the crowd but I soon straightened him up.

"But it's a good sign because that means he has still got more to give. He has improved tremendously since Newmarket and he won like a really good horse."

*Sir Stanley Clarke, the owner of 1997 Grand National winner Lord Gyllene and founder of Northern Racing which runs nine racecourses, has died at his home in Barton-under-Needwood in Staffordshire at the age of 71. Clarke had been battling illness since 2000.