Racing: Head girl in Champion class: Charities will benefit as Maktoum Al Maktoum wins the race he sponsors with Hatoof

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The Independent Online
HATOOF crowned a memorable weekend for Criquette Head with a three-length victory in the Champion Stakes here yesterday. The previous evening the 44-year-old Chantilly trainer had become a grandmother for the first time.

Three furlongs out, the Group One contest looked likely to provide a close finish with five horses in contention across the track. But sitting just behind them, as straight as a policeman, was Walter Swinburn holding a double handful on Hatoof.

He asked his filly for effort two out and she lengthened clear of her rivals with her ears pricked. Swinburn said: 'She is easier to ride than she used to be, she settles so much better. I went when I did to make sure I stretched them and the way she finished I could have gone to the top of the town.'

Ezzoud, one of those in the van when Hatoof swept past, stayed on to hold Dernier Empereur and prevent a French one-two. Tenby showed something of his old form to take fourth, while Muhtarram, one of the first under pressure, finished seventh.

Hatoof, who started favourite, and Ezzoud both carry the colours of Maktoum Al Maktoum, whose family sponsors the race. He will give his share of the prize-money, some pounds 230,000, to charities for handicapped children.

On Hatoof's last visit to the Rowley Mile she won the 1992 1,000 Guineas. Her trainer rates the daughter of Irish River, who flourishes best on the easy ground of spring and autumn, alongside her Arc winner Three Troikas and best colt Bering, and hopes that she will be around at Arc time next year to justify that high opinion.

In the Cesarewitch his master's voice did the trick for Aahsaylad. The seven-year-old, trained by John White at Wendover, swooped in the last stride to beat Ritto a head, with the pair two and a half lengths in front of My Desire and hot favourite Hasten To Add.

Aahsaylad has been known to be tricky at the stalls and White drove across the Heath to the two-and-a-quarter mile start to see him in. He said: 'He can be an old sod, though wasn't any trouble this time. But then he knows my voice.'

Two furlongs out the giant grey Hasten To Add, backed from 6-1 to 3-1 yesterday to take out half a million pounds from William Hill alone, was just about getting the better of a duel with My Patriarch. But then, down the centre of the track from miles off the pace, came Ritto and Aahsaylad. My Desire deprived Hasten To Add of third place, but at least the favourite landed the each-way bets.

White was confident once he knew the ground would have enough give to suit Aahsaylad, who has had shoulder trouble. He said: 'As he walked round before the race he was pointing his toe, which is a good sign for a horse with that sort of problem.'

Aahsaylad will reappear over hurdles on Friday at Newbury, with his long-term target the Sun Alliance Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

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