To ensure he won the Cheveley Park Stakes here yesterday, Sheikh Mohammed bought the opposition. He need not have bothered.
Cape Verdi, one of three fillies the Sheikh purchased from Robert Sangster for the Godolphin harem, could finish only fourth as the favourite for the Group One contest as Embassy burned away from her field in the Sheikh's personal maroon and white livery.
Dubai's crown prince said he would be discussing with the winning trainer the possibility of seconding Embassy to the Emirates and Godolphin this winter, which means David Loder was probably practising his genuflexion in front of the mirror last night. Embassy looked mightily good.
Sangster has sold smashing horses, such as Carnegie and Balanchine, to the Sheikh in the past and said he could not refuse an offer for this current batch, which also includes the Derby prospect, City Honours. If there is a loser in this transaction, it is Sangster's trainer, Peter Chapple-Hyam, who administrates a Manton yard that is increasingly becoming a prep school polishing youngsters for other establishments.
The trainer said he was disappointed with Cape Verdi's performance yesterday but that she would be a transformed animal when tried over a mile on fast ground. "She will be back here next year in the winners' enclosure [after the 1,000 Guineas]," he said.
There was nothing substantial about Cape Verdi yesterday as the field patrolled the paddock in drizzle under squirrel-grey skies. Embassy, on the other hand, displayed one of those backsides you hope never to see coming down the aircraft aisle when there is an adjacent empty seat.
Loder's filly did not move with any great conviction for much of the six-furlong contest, however, as she was caught on the inside, in a cage of runners. When Kieren Fallon detected a fissure, though, the response from his conveyance was compelling. "She really has got that tremendous acceleration and she kills off the opposition with it," Loder said. "Going into the race I had my doubts whether she would stay a mile because in all her races she has given me the impression you could run her over five if you wanted to.
"But today she was more relaxed in behind, switched off, and Kieren felt there was every chance she would get a mile. She was so much off the bridle he was having to keep her up to her work and in terms of getting a mile that's ideal."
Loder gave much of the credit for this victory to Embassy's work rider, Robert Edmondson, the former champion apprentice. This was hardly surprising as the jockey comes from a most noble family.
The money event of the day, the Tattersalls Houghton Sales Stakes, went to Roger Charlton, who earned a working man's salary in the sub-90 seconds it took to run the bonus race. The Beckhampton trainer saddled the first and second, Tamarisk and Sapphire Ring, who earned over pounds 200,000 between them. Roger looked rather pleased.
Tamarisk, in particular, looked a colt with other considerable paydays ahead of him and Charlton's first task will be to persuade his owners to release the pounds 15,000 it will take to supplement the horse for the Dewhurst Stakes. "He wasn't entered originally because we just aimed to run in this race from the moment he was bought," the trainer said. "He should stay a mile so obviously we will aim at the Guineas and we can dream through the winter. I think he's a proper horse.
"I needed this because I've had a lot of scrubbers running at Catterick." Sheikh Mohammed is not interested in those.
1998 2,000 GUINEAS: Coral: 7-1 Daggers Drawn & Second Empire; 10-1 Central Park, King Of Kings & Xaar; 16-1 Tamarisk. Ladbrokes: 6-1 Daggers Drawn; 7-1 Xaar; 8-1 King Of Kings, Second Empire; 10-1 Central Park; 16-1 Tamarisk. Tote: 5-1 Daggers Drawn; 7-1 Central Park, King Of Kings, Second Empire; 10-1 Xaar; 16- 1 Tamarisk. William Hill: 6-1 Daggers Drawn; 7-1 King Of Kings, Second Empire; 8-1 Xaar; 10-1 Central Park; 16-1 Tamarisk.
1998 1,000 GUINEAS: Coral: 6-1 Embassy; 10-1 Jibe; 14-1 Cape Verdi; 16- 1 Ashraakat, Loving Claim. Ladbrokes: 5-1 Embassy; 10-1 Cape Verdi; 12- 1 Ashraakat; 14-1 Jibe. Tote: 3-1 Embassy; 8-1 Ashraakat, Cape Verdi; 14-1 Jibe, Woodland Melody. William Hill: 4-1 Embassy; 8-1 Cape Verdi; 12-1 Ashraakat; 14-1 Jibe, Shmoose, Woodland Melody.