Mandilak marks return of the Aga Khan's flying colours

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The colours of the Aga Khan returned to a British winner's circle for the first time in six years when Mandilak scored at Yarmouth yesterday.

The winner was one of a batch of 12 two-year-olds the Aga Khan sent to Luca Cumani this year at the end of his self-imposed exile following his dissatisfaction over Jockey Club drug-testing procedures in the wake of the disqualification of his 1989 Oaks winner, Aliysa.

Mandilak was the pathfinder for the Aga Khan's British-trained battalion when he made his debut at Ascot last month. But the son of El Gran Senor disappointed.

In yesterday's Ranworth Maiden Stakes the bay colt knew what was required and came with a strong late run under Oscar Urbina to beat the Henry Cecil- trained Street General by a length.

Cumani, who trained Kahyasi to win the Derby for the Aga Khan in 1988 said: "Its marvellous to see these colours win again. It's been a long wait but it's great to be back in business. We have had to wait six years.

"I've had a dozen two-year-olds sent to me by the Aga Khan but most are bred to be three-years-olds. They are slow-maturing types and the firm ground this summer didn't help. Mandilak jumped a path at Ascot and I was expecting a much better performance from him today."

Happy Valentine earned a 20-1 quote for the Derby from Coral after making an impressive winning debut in the Herringfleet Maiden Stakes.

The Godolphin-owned colt made all the running under Frankie Dettori to win by five lengths and the pounds 3,980 he collected stretched Saeed Bin Suroor's lead over Cecil in the battle for the trainers' championship to pounds 31,368. Cecil had to make do with pounds 2,210 in place money from the exploits of Street General, Florid and Darnaway.

Bin Suroor said that he has a possible 10 further runners this season and that the possibility of Halling running in the Japan Cup next month has not yet been ruled out. "We will see if he can stay a mile and a half. He is still in training and if he's still in good form then we'll see."