THEY had to fill the hole in yesterday after Cape Verdi won the 1,000 Guineas for Godolphin.
The shovellers had been hard at work and were ready to bury team Arabia after a spluttering start for the class of '98. The squad which arrived from the Gulf on Monday had recorded seven straight losers before Cape Verdi came surging dramatically up the Rowley Mile. Their Classic haul is now complete.
Newmarket has hardly been a town in mourning since results started going against Godolphin. Some of the sniggerers seem to consider Sheikh Mohammed's recent purchase of Evry as a sort of betrayal to Britain. The Godolphin team sensed the mild animosity and appeared to enjoy yesterday's Classic success all the more.
No, Sheikh Mohammed had not been disappointed by the early performances, Simon Crisford, the Godolphin racing manager, said. They had not expected to win. "Our team this week have run exactly to the level we were expecting of all of them," he said. "We have not fancied any horses apart from this one and the one in the last today [Fa-Eq who won]."
Her connections may have expected Cape Verdi to win, but they surely could not have anticipated this arrogant dismissal of 15 opponents. The winning margin was five lengths and extending at the line. Her price for the Oaks swiftly went the other way and 2-1 is now the top offer for Epsom.
Frankie Dettori, the winning rider, later reported that Cape Verdi had been unusually collected in the stalls for a filly having her first run of the season. It was not a sensation felt by Pat Smullen. The young Irish jockey, who was executing his first ride in Britain, on Tarascon, informed us beforehand that his parents had no interest in racing at all. The same could be said of Tarascon. Tommy Stack's filly used much of her energy bucking wildly in the stalls. She emerged to finish 16th and last.
Somewhere in the distance, Dettori was already giving a race report to a mounted interviewer. "She's very cool and just stands in the stalls," the Italian said. "I've never known a horse like her and she's amazing for a filly. She pulled up as if nothing had happened.
"What I like about her is that she is a great professional. She pulled up in a canter. It's the first time in my short career that I have ridden a horse like that."
Frankie was so delighted in fact that he subjected Sheikh Mohammed to a celebratory mauling. Dubai's crown prince was smothered in kisses. In completing a full set for his employers, Dettori edged closer to a personal accomplishment. "It's nice to have that one in the bag and there's only one left for me now, the Derby," he said. "Finally we have got the 1,000 Guineas. We have been third with Moonshell and Bint Shadayid and we knew that this filly was good, we just had to hope that she was as good as we thought.
"Of our runners so far, she was the only one that impressed but I didn't expect to win by five lengths. I feel a little emotional because in the last couple of days I have hardly had one placed. But it is a long road to November and we've only just started. Don't write Godolphin off yet."
The Godolphin batch for this season is considered to contain better fillies than colts. Among the 35-strong string that is accommodated at Newmarket's Moulton Paddocks the ones to follow closest are Bahr, who goes for the Musidora Stakes at York, and the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (French 1,000 Guineas) aspirant La Nuit Rose. Neither of those though, like 15 other fillies yesterday, is in the same league as Cape Verdi.
THE OAKS (Epsom, 5 June): Coral: 2-1 Cape Verdi, 6-1 Midnight Liner, 10-1 Cloud Castle & Gloriosa, 12-1 Bayr, 14-1 Shahtoush, 16-1 Loving Claim; Ladbrokes: 7-4 Cape Verdi, 4-1 Midnight Line, 12-1 Bahr, Cloud Castle, Gloriosa & Shahtoush; William Hill: 2-1 Cape Verdi, 4-1 Midnight Line, 10-1 Cloud Castle, 16-1 Bahr, Gloriosa & Shahtoush.Reuse content