Racing: Moon Ballad can go the extra mile for Godolphin

Glorious Goodwood
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The Independent Online

Godolphin's quest for a glorious century of top-level winners moves on to Goodwood this week, where the Sussex Stakes on Wednesday and the Nassau Stakes on Saturday form the twin Group One peaks. The Blues have both Moon Ballad and Dubai Destination pencilled in for the mile contest, with the former the likely representative as one who is already a winner over the idiosyncratic downland course.

A decision on the deployment of the pair - one will go to Sussex, the other will cross the Channel for next month's Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville - will be made this morning. "Both horses are in excellent shape and ready for a run," said Godolphin's racing manager, Simon Crisford.

Moon Ballad, who took the Select Stakes at Goodwood after winning the Dante Stakes and running third in the Derby, was spectacularly impressive when winning the Dubai World Cup but as disappointing on his European four-year-old debut, when ninth of 10 behind Nayef in the Prince of Wales's Stakes at Ascot, and is now dropping back in trip. His contemporary Dubai Destination is already proven at the highest level over a mile, having established himself as the one to beat in the division with a clear-cut success at the same Royal meeting in the Queen Anne Stakes.

The softly-softly approach adopted with Dubai Destination, who was the only horse to lower last year's Sussex Stakes hero Rock of Gibraltar's colours at two but was injured early last year, has paid off. And another whose potential is being fulfilled later rather than sooner is the Roger Charlton-trained Trade Fair, making only his second venture into Group One company. The three-year-old spent the winter as 2,000 Guineas favourite after running third in the Dewhurst Stakes, but was a late absentee from the Classic after suffering a bout of pulmonary bleeding.

The colt has emerged from the close season stronger in body and more settled in mind, and on both his runs this year has indicated that he is more than ready to take on the big boys again. His claim to be the moral Guineas winner will be fully tested on Wednesday, for among his opponents will be Mick Channon's Zafeen, second on the Rowley Mile and subsequent winner of the St James's Palace Stakes.

And in what promises to be a first-class contest, another in the mix is the progressive Kalaman, representing Sir Michael Stoute and the Aga Khan. Judged unlucky when runner-up to Zafeen at Royal Ascot, Kalanisi's half-brother was previously twice master of recent runaway Sandown winner Ikhtyar.

Statue Of Liberty, eighth in the St James's Palace Stakes on a ring-rusty seasonal debut, may represent Aidan O'Brien, and Where Or When, whose limitations in the best company have been exposed so far this term, tries his luck again.

Sixteen remain in the Sussex Stakes, with a £285,000 purse the richest race ever run on the course, at this stage (the final line-up will be known tomorrow) but one, Kalaman's stablemate Russian Rhythm, will be a definite defector, with the Nassau Stakes her target. Cheveley Park Stud's big, imposing daughter of Kingmambo has dominated her age and sex over a mile this season with clear-cut victories in the 1,000 Guineas and Coronation Stakes and, given the style of her recent work and her pedigree, is likely to take the step up to 10 furlongs in her mighty stride. Her opponents will include Godolphin's Hi Dubai and the good French filly Ana Marie, and victory will surely see her pitted against colts thereafter.

The Nassau Stakes shares its billing on Saturday with the Stewards' Cup, a sprint handicap riddle that would baffle Oedipus. Such trifles as runners, draw, jockeys and going for the six-furlong dash will not be known or finalised until later in the week.

But given the definite trends concerning the winner - high numbers favoured, particularly on good or faster ground; a horse in form; a horse four or older; a winner over the distance; a reasonably well-fancied contender - the ante-post-favourite Patavellian, Torosay Spring, Royal Millennium and Fayr Jag must be shortlisted.