Racing: Dynamic Dubawi rekindles the dream

Emotional win for son of Dubai Millennium gives Sheikh Mohammed glimpse of Epsom glory
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The Independent Online

This is an industry built on dreams and at the Curragh yesterday one of one man's wildest stayed alive. Dubawi, ridden by Frankie Dettori, streaked to victory in the 85th Irish 2,000 Guineas and in so doing redeemed his own reputation and kept the banner of his sire Dubai Millennium flying high. It is the burning passion of Sheikh Mohammed, owner of both horses, that one of his brilliant, ill-fated superstar's limited-edition sole crop should prove himself a champion. One Classic is in the bag; now the road to Epsom, and the greatest glory, lies open.

This is an industry built on dreams and at the Curragh yesterday one of one man's wildest stayed alive. Dubawi, ridden by Frankie Dettori, streaked to victory in the 85th Irish 2,000 Guineas and in so doing redeemed his own reputation and kept the banner of his sire Dubai Millennium flying high. It is the burning passion of Sheikh Mohammed, owner of both horses, that one of his brilliant, ill-fated superstar's limited-edition sole crop should prove himself a champion. One Classic is in the bag; now the road to Epsom, and the greatest glory, lies open.

For Dubawi, yesterday was make or break; last year he had taken one of the top four European juvenile races but the close-season bubble had apparently burst when he could finish only fifth, as favourite, behind Footstepsinthesand in the 2,000 Guineas last month. The difference this time, as he decisively turned the tables on two of those who finished in front of him on the Rowley Mile, was the ground; he hated the lightning-fast conditions at Newmarket but the rain arrived in Ireland in time to ease underfoot conditions.

The Ballydoyle hare Hills Of Aran set a decent gallop for his stablemates Oratorio and Albert Hall, a pace that suited Dubawi very well too, thank you. Three furlongs out, Hills Of Aran was backpedalling, Bob's Pride had forged to the front and Kieren Fallon was winding Oratorio up for his challenge, but it was clear that Dubawi was going best of all.

Dettori's head appeared to be on a swivel as he looked around for dangers, his mount cruising on the bridle. Two furlongs out he asked Dubawi for the race and, although the colt drifted from the centre of the course to the far-side rail as he quickened, he produced an undeniably impressive response to win by an easy two lengths from Oratorio. "He just left them for dead," said an elated Dettori. "He got to the front and he said 'which way do I go?', so I took him to the right. Great horses make it look easy, and he is a great horse. He showed what he is capable of today."

Oratorio, fourth at Newmarket, stayed on strongly to take the runner-up spot from Democratic Deficit, who had been one place behind, and hampered by, Dubawi on their last meeting. Rebel Rebel, the surprise 2,000 Guineas runner-up at 100-1, had to be content with the fourth spot this time.

Dubawi, the ninth of Dubai Millennium's 56 offspring to be born, was his first winner, when he won at Goodwood on his debut, his first Group One winner, when he took the National Stakes in September on yesterday's track, and is now his first Classic winner.

The Derby was Dubai Millennium's sole defeat in 10 starts and Sheikh Mohammed would love to avenge it next month and as well as Dubawi, his Godolphin stable under Saeed Bin Suroor has Belenus, his sire's 47th-born, among the 27 remaining entries. Dubawi has been cut to as short as 4-1 for the Blue Riband, in 13 days' time, but his participation has yet to be confirmed. "I think the horse will stay a mile and a quarter," said the Sheikh, clinging to the dream, "and sometimes mile-and-a-quarter horses win the Derby. There is no hurry just yet to make a decision. But whatever we decide, this is a great day. Horses are only flesh and blood and sometimes they have an off-day. But today he was back to himself. Remembering Dubai Millennium gave us inspiration and this was the real Dubawi today."

Oratorio, who tried gallantly, but unavailingly, to fill the supersub role for his absent stablemate Footstepsinthesand, is also in the Derby, and the son of Danehill was certainly doing his best work in the closing stages. "The ground was a bit soft for him," said trainer Aidan O'Brien, "and the winner just got away from us. But he ran well and it certainly looks as though he'll stay further." Sixteen winners of the Irish 2,000 Guineas have tried their luck at Epsom, but only three - Hard Ridden in 1958, Santa Claus in 1964 and Grundy in 1975 - have succeeded. That is more than in the equivalent filly department, though; only Valoris, in 1966, and Imagine, four years ago, used the Irish 1,000 Guineas as a springboard to the Oaks.

Both emerged from Ballydoyle - Valoris in the reign of the previous incumbent, Vincent O'Brien - as does Virginia Waters, current favourite for the Oaks after her impressive victory in the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket. The daughter of Kingmambo faces 18 as she bids to become only the second, after Attraction last year, to win both the British and Irish versions of the mile Classic today. Her rivals include Maids Causeway, runner-up on the Rowley Mile, and last year's best juvenile filly Damson, making her seasonal debut. There may be more Derby pointers on the same excellent card, when two colts with one-race, one-win records clash in the Gallinule Stakes. Ehsan, from John Oxx's yard, won his maiden by seven lengths last month and Scorpion, the Ballydoyle representative, took his by half a length two weeks ago.

The best of the older horses strut their stuff in the Tattersalls Gold Cup, notably last year's Arc hero Bago, over from Jonathan Pease's Chantilly base, and the local cracks Grey Swallow and Azamour. Norse Dancer challenges for Britain. And in France, the Australian star Elvstroem, currently lodging in Newmarket, continues his European tour in the Prix d'Ispahan at Longchamp against opposition headed by the Andre Fabre pair Cacique and Valixir.

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