Racing: Josr can spread the web wider

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GODOLPHIN'S MARCH towards the new millennium should continue at Goodwood today when one of the Dubai-based outfit's great blue hopes for next year, Josr Algarhoud, contests the day's feature, the Celebration Mile. And Sheikh Mohammed's commitment to a worldwide future has taken on a new dimension with the introduction of a website devoted to the exploits of his beloved horses. At http://www.godolphin.com is a comprehensive review, in print and on video, of performances from Balanchine's Oaks in 1994 to Kayf Tara's Prix Kergorlay six days ago.

Those charged with the daily updates are likely to be logging on imminently with news of another victory. Should Josr Algarhoud, or indeed stablemate Cape Cross, win today's Group Two race it will be this season's 71st win for Godolphin (some of them with horses and in races you've never heard of) and a 307th Group-race victory.

Frankie Dettori has opted for Josr Algarhoud, but his choice is based on the promise of youth rather than a wish to avoid any unpleasant memories of the five-day ban for irresponsible riding he picked up after passing the post first on subsequently disqualified Cape Cross two years ago.

Josr Algarhoud, a fine big Darshaan half-brother to lightning-fast Sainte Marine, has the typical profile of a lightly-raced Godolphin improver. He was a smart juvenile with Mick Channon last year, when he won the Gimcrack Stakes on his second outing, but met with a setback after his transfer to Al Quoz and was not sighted again until five weeks ago. He showed that he had at least retained his ability by making short work of Haami in the Beeswing Stakes and looks primed to cope with this step up in class and trip.

"We don't think he'll stay further than a mile, but if he's going to get it anywhere, it will be at Goodwood," Simon Crisford, the team's racing manager, said. "He's hasn't raced round a bend yet, or on anything but a flat course. But we think he has progressed since the Newcastle race and we hope he will be one of our top horses for next year."

However, Cape Cross, winner of the Lockinge Stakes last year and the Queen Anne Stakes, under a brilliant Gary Stevens ride, on his latest outing at Royal Ascot in June, is the one with the runs already on the board and although today's race could be considered a prep for a valuable Grade One contest in Toronto next month, Crisford gave the usual fair warning about not taking anything for granted between the two horses.

"Josr Algarhoud has not yet got the same CV as Cape Cross," he said. "We haven't worked the horses together or pushed too many buttons at home, so there is no hard evidence to say which is the better. And on past experience you should never rule out the ones with the white caps."

Two of the Godolphin pair's rivals are also stablemates. Hard-working six-year-old Almushtarak is pride of Kamil Mahdi's small Newmarket yard and was second in this race last year but is consistent in top company in the sense that he consistently finds one or two too good for him. His young stablemate Debbie's Warning has not lived up to the promise he showed in the spring. The odd man out in the field, the Richard Hannon-trained Wallace, seems to be progressing but, using Haami as a yardstick, not at the same rate as Josr Algarhoud (3.20).

The afternoon at Goodwood opens with the March Stakes, the last of the recognised trials for the St Leger two weeks today. Two of the 15 entries for the final Classic will lock horns. Nowhere To Exit will be a warm order after his second to Montjeu in the French Derby, but Iscan (2.15), runner-up in the Italian equivalent, will be suited by the step up in trip and, with the assistance of Kieren Fallon, can get his head in front for the first time this season.

Fallon can also take Windsor's only Pattern race, the Winter Hill Stakes, on hat-trick seeking Zindabad (6.45) from Ben Hanbury's in-form yard.

The French seaside season draws to a close tomorrow with the Grand Prix de Deauville. Dettori rides the best-fancied of the British, John Dunlop's Sadian, whose challenge is backed up by Courteous (Paul Cole) and Helvetius (Clive Brittain).

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