Racing: Naheef leads Godolphin's annual curtain-raiser

It has become something of a rite of spring, like the harbinger cuckoo and play-off agony. The first Godolphins of the season were sighted on the Newmarket gallops yesterday morning, emerging from their summer quarters at Moulton Paddocks with riders resplendent in royal blue waterproof blousons and horses sporting pristine white legwraps. By any standards, they cut a sartorial dash. But it is that on the track which the racing world awaits.

It has become something of a rite of spring, like the harbinger cuckoo and play-off agony. The first Godolphins of the season were sighted on the Newmarket gallops yesterday morning, emerging from their summer quarters at Moulton Paddocks with riders resplendent in royal blue waterproof blousons and horses sporting pristine white legwraps. By any standards, they cut a sartorial dash. But it is that on the track which the racing world awaits.

The blustery grey dawn may have been something of a climatic culture shock to the migrants, who flew in on Monday from their regular winter in the Dubai sunshine. The ultraviolet-induced inner glow on the equine coats was largely hidden under striped woollen layers as the two 2,000 Guineas candidates, Naheef and Meshaheer, led the blue train at a sedate pace up the steep all-weather strip on Warren Hill.

The exercise was no more than a leg-stretch before the serious business starts on the Rowley Mile tomorrow, the first day of the Guineas meeting. "No bullet works needed at this stage," said Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford, "they're fit and ready to rock and roll." Derby entry Moon Ballad will be the first on the dance floor in the Newmarket Stakes, followed by Marienbard and Kutub in the Jockey Club Stakes and the filly Spring Oak in the Dahlia Stakes. But although the team will be multiply represented in the colts' Classic on Saturday, its sole 1,000 Guineas entry Kazzia will miss Sunday's feature in favour of the French equivalent a week later.

One of the Godolphin signatures is expertise with older horses but in the days when Al Quoz and Nad Al Sheba were not even on the drawing board John Dunlop was giving masterclasses in that particular branch of the trainer's art.

Yesterday at Ascot his five-year-old charge Give Notice did just that as far as the stayers' division is concerned with a smooth three-and-a-half length defeat of ever-gallant Persian Punch in the Sagaro Stakes.

David Elsworth, trainer of the runner-up, did say beforehand that the nine-year-old's enthusiasm was likely to be in excess of his fitness on his seasonal debut. But even allowing for that accurate prognostication, the old warrior may be hard pressed to deal with thrusting juniors in future, particularly when their jockeys steer as canny a course as did Frankie Dettori on Give Notice yesterday. The Italian gave Persian Punch no chance to engage his renowned battling qualities by challenging wide and late.

Give Notice, third in the Cesarewitch last year, easily coped with the step up to Group 3 company and will be back at the Berkshire venue for the marathon crown at the Royal meeting in June. "He is a tough, improving horse who has done very well physically since last year," said Dunlop. "There aren't that many races for his type so I suppose we will look at the Gold Cup."

Persian Punch is arguably the best-loved horse in training and certainly the popularity of stayers with public and professionals has been undergoing a revival in recent years. The 44 entries for the Gold Cup announced yesterday compare most favourably with last year's 36 but the Ascot authorities are equally delighted with events at the other end of the distance spectrum. Four US-trained horses, included dual Dubai Golden Shaheen winner Caller One, have been put in the six-furlong Golden Jubilee Stakes, the former Cork and Orrery Stakes that has been upgraded to Group 1 and will be run on the one-off celebratory fifth day of the Royal extravaganza.

Yesterday, Dandy Nicholls' scattergun approach to valuable handicaps paid dividends in the Victoria Cup when one of his quintet, Scotty's Future, powered home under Ian Mongan to turn what should have been a competitive charge into a rout.

And in Rome, first Classic blood of the season went to the Newmarket trainer William Haggas and jockey Darryll Holland when Dupont took the Italian 2,000 Guineas by a nose.

Michael Roberts, 47, champion jockey here in 1992 after 11 titles in his native South Africa, has retired on medical advice, having not ridden since damaging his neck in a fall at Wolverhampton in September. His finest moments came on his two "King George" winners Mtoto and Opera House, on Intrepidity in the Oaks and Mystiko in the 2,000 Guineas.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Regional Sales Manager - OTE £100,000

£45000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Regional Sales Manager is re...

Recruitment Genius: IT Support Engineer

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The company provides IT support...

Recruitment Genius: IT Manager

£45000 - £55000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This manager is for a successfu...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitm...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific