Racing: Librettist soothes Godolphin tension

In winning the Prix Messidor at Maisons-Laffitte with Librettist yesterday, the Godolphin team put down a marker for the season that was distinctly double-faced. The four-year-old's victory was a welcome confirmation that the blues are back in form but it was also the outfit's first Group success on the Continent of this campaign, and only their fourth in all - by their standards a poor effort.

But the lack of form of the normally powerful squad has been well-documented and the signs are that the corner has been decisively turned, for Librettist's success was the fifth in six days for his masters. It was also testament to their skill and patience; the Danzig colt certainly has an engine - he was fifth in the Dewhurst at two - but his bodywork is rickety.

"He's desperately difficult to keep sound," said Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford, "and we don't plan things too far in advance for him." Yesterday's Group Three mile contest, in which Frankie Dettori rode a perfect race from the front, was the four-year-old's third win in as many runs this year, but he missed all of last season.

Dettori bounced Librettist out of the gate and set a steadyish pace until upping the ante going to the final quarter of a mile, where the change of gear almost immediately had the chasing pack in trouble. Helios Quercos was the first to be able to pick up, but Librettist had done enough and was a length clear at the line.

He holds an entry in the Sussex Stakes and was cut in the bookmakers' list to 12-1 for the Goodwood showpiece, but if he does step back up to Group One company, it is more likely to be in France, at Deauville next month. "I was impressed with him," said Dettori, "but I'd think his next run will be the Prix Jacques le Marois."

Electrocutionist, the Godolphin candidate for the next top-level event on the European circuit, Saturday's King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes, will have his final serious workout tomorrow morning. By then, it will be known if one of his opponents will be star mare Ouija Board. Her people must decide before noon today whether or not to pay the £70,000 supplementary fee to enter her for the great Ascot race or wait until the Nassau Stakes at Goodwood.

"Our decision will go to the wire," said Peter Stanley, racing manager to the five-year-old's owner, Lord Derby. Ouija Board, winner of the Prince Of Wales's Stakes on her penultimate start, is a general 8-1 chance to win the King George.

Christophe Soumillon is standing by to take over the ride on the André Fabre-trained King George favourite Hurricane Run from Kieren Fallon should the Irishman lose an appeal against his current domestic ban in the High Court on Thursday. Soumillon was Hurricane Run's regular partner until his sale last year to the Coolmore axis.

Yesterday in Europe it was largely a case of Germany calling. The 137th edition of the Deutsches Derby, won two years ago by top-class Shirocco, produced a winner of exciting potential in Schiaparelli and the two Group Two contests at Maisons-Laffitte went to residents of the fatherland, Boccassini in the Prix Morny and Flashing Numbers in the Prix Eugene Adam.

The hitherto unheralded Flashing Numbers may have galloped his way into a future quiz question as he joined the names Sir Percy, Papal Bull and Hala Bek on the list of those who have relegated Dragon Dancer to a second-place spot. The Prix Eugene Adam had seemed an ideal opportunity for the Derby runner-up to lose his unwanted tag of being the best maiden in training, but he once again found one too good.

The frustrating Geoff Wragg-trained colt took control from trailblazing Markovitch after seven of the straight 10 furlongs, but had no answer to the winner's closing burst of speed and went down by two lengths. "He ran well but was beaten by a better horse on the day," said rider Alan Munro.

Or, it may be, any day. Flashing Numbers, trained by Mario Hofer, seems upwardly mobile; as a juvenile last year he was not far behind yesterday's third, Linda's Lad, in a Group One, and is now back in Europe after a spell at the Dubai Carnival. Derby 12th Linda's Lad, three lengths behind Dragon Dancer, ran an odd sort of race, last, and almost tailed-off last, of the five runners for much of the race, he suddenly changed his attitude and was staying on strongly at the end.

Chris McGrath

Nap: Jost Van Dyke (Yarmouth 3.35)

NB: Fractured Foxy (Beverley 6.30)

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