Racing: Daylami's day as Oath fades to grey

IT WAS so easy, it was almost insulting, and it certainly put the critics in their place. Daylami, the horse known as the Grey Rocket in the United States but hitherto given only grudging accolades on this side of the Atlantic, turned the King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes into a hack in the park. He passed the post with his ears pricked five lengths clear of his Godolphin stablemate Nedawi, and felt so pleased with himself that he put in a buck and a kick as Frankie Dettori cantered him back towards a deservedly rapturous reception.

The five-year-old's portfolio is now that of a thoroughly professional top-class globetrotting modern racehorse. He has won nine races in four countries, including five Group One contests at distances between a mile and a mile and a half. He has raced for four seasons, travelled worldwide, remained sound in mind and body and won pounds 1.2m. There can no longer be any doubting his excellence.

Daylami was never worse than fourth in the race as Daliapour shared the work in front with Nedawi, setting a fair, but not exceptional, pace. The Derby winner Oath, the 9-4 favourite, was poised on the outside and approaching the turn into the short uphill straight nothing was going better. But as Nedawi stayed on and Daylami launched himself the two three- year-olds capitulated tamely. There was a valid excuse in the case of little Daliapour, who cut a foot badly as he stumbled leaving the stalls, and pulled up very sore in last place.

Fruits Of Love came threading through the pack, carrying his blinkered head rather awkwardly, to claim third place, half a length behind Nedawi. Silver Patriarch took fourth in front of the Irish challenger Sunshine Street, with the Hong Kong raider Indigenous sixth. Kieren Fallon had no immediate explanation for the poor showing of Oath, who was, as at Epsom, restive in the preliminaries and broke ranks early in the parade, costing his rider a pounds 1,250 fine.

By contrast Daylami handled himself to the manner born as he led his rivals past the stands. A conspicuously handsome white-maned grey, he remained cool and proud in the sweltering heat as all around him boiled. He was the third successive King George winner for Sheikh Mohammed's Dubai- based operation after the back-to-back victories by Swain, to whom he was fourth last year.

"He has almost been a forgotten horse", said Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford, "in spite of the fact he has won a French Guineas, the Eclipse, the Coronation Cup and a Grade One in America. But I am sure he will be regarded as a champion after this. In the States they call him the grey rocket, and after that you can see why."

Dettori was equally impressed. "He takes about a furlong to get into gear," he said, "but as I tracked Oath off the final bend I was only a length or two off the pace and I knew I could get there. I gave him one crack and he really picked up. As I went past Gary Stevens [on Nedawi] he called 'go get 'em, Frankie' and all the time his voice was getting further and further away. I was able to see how far ahead I was on the big screen on the infield. I really enjoyed watching that."

Daylami runs in the blue of Godolphin, but his breeder the Aga Khan, for whom he won the French Guineas two years ago, has retained a major stake in him and at the end of this season he will retire to stud in Ireland.

But his racing career will continue in earnest before then. His next run will be the Irish Champion Stakes, with the Arc, for which he is now third favourite behind Montjeu, the French and irish Derby winner, and El Condor Pasa, the Japanese Grand Prix de Saint-Cloud winner, also pencilled in.

Earlier, Sheikh Mohammed's first venture into the 1999 two-year-old transfer market went astray in the Princess Margaret Stakes when Journalist, acquired during the week for Godolphin but racing in older brother Maktoum's colours pro tem, had to settle for second place behind Saintly Speech. Journalist forged to the lead a furlong out but had no answer to her rival's finishing thrust inside the final hundred yards and went down by half a length.

Saintly Speech, owned and bred by Robert Sangster, and now just 16-1 for next year's 1,000 Guineas with Coral, had made a winning debut nine weeks previously and is likely to have another break before her next appearance.

That she is the apple of her trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam's eye was indicated by the kiss he planted on her pretty forehead in the winners' enclosure and by the fact that her next run may be in one of the top two-year-old fillies' races, the Cheveley Park Stakes. Saintly Speech was ridden by the Manton stable jockey Jimmy Fortune, who bounced straight back after a nasty fall in the previous race. His mount Bawsian was brought down by Prince of Denial, who fell after clipping the running rail with his quarters and, sadly, injured himself fatally.


1 DAYLAMI L Dettori 3-1

(Trained: Saeed bin Suroor)

2 Nedawi G Stevens 8-1

(Trained: Saeed bin Suroor)

3 Fruits Of Love O Peslier 4-1

(Trained: M Johnston)

8 ran. 5, 1/2. Tote: pounds 3.90; pounds 1.70, pounds 2.30, pounds 1.80, DF: pounds 12.10. CSF: pounds 25.01. Trifecta: pounds 82.70.