Racing: Millennium dominates Predominate

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The Independent Online
IN THE Emirates desert last winter Sheikh Mohammed bemoaned the short price of one of his horses for the Derby. It was only because of Dubai Millennium's name, he said, that the colt was bobbing along at the head of the ante-post markets. It seems the Sheikh may have been having us on.

Dubai Millennium maintained his unbeaten record with great facility in the Predominate Stakes here yesterday and his owner then revealed that this had been the Blue Riband horse all along. The name is beginning to look quite appropriate after all.

Of all the Godolphin bluebloods dispatched to Newmarket this spring only yesterday's winner and the homesick Adair remain for Epsom. The latter is now beginning to eat properly for the first time since his arrival, but he will almost certainly be wearing the second colours two weeks on Saturday. "You don't know our Derby horse but we do," Sheikh Mohammed said yesterday. "We always knew. This horse has done it, but the other one hasn't and we must try him again with other horses. I think Adair will be all right by the Derby."

Dubai Millennium was more than all right yesterday both in execution and appearance. Like many in Godolphin's ranks he looked magnificent, almost like he had spent the whole of the winter in a sunny haven.

A clue to the future came in the entourage which surrounded this huge animal. Simon Crisford, the team's manager, was there, along with the training partnership of Saeed bin Suroor and Tom Albertrani. The Sheikh himself mixed with family and associates. In all, there were a dozen of them. Dubai Millennium did not disappoint.

He was slowly away, but not as tardily as the second string, Clodion. The pacemaker was soon rousted to the front however while Frankie Dettori relaxed the 4-11 favourite at the rear. When the Italian twitched in the straight the race was over. Dubai Millennium opened up an immediate advantage of significance which was measured at three and a half lengths at the line. Red Sea, the vain pursuer, can console himself with the fact he has now finished closer to Dubai Millennium than any other creature. The winner's two other victories have been gained by an aggregate of 14 lengths.

"This was the first time the horse had run over a mile and a quarter and my main concern was to make sure the horse relaxed and did everything right," the jockey reported. "In a matter of half a furlong he went from last to first on the bridle, quickened up, went four clear and didn't see another horse. I thought it was a great performance. The ground was good to soft so it was a very testing mile and quarter today. At the moment I would say he is my Derby horse. Adair has still got it all to do, he's got to put in some good work at home. "

The top price available for the Derby is now 7-1 and the only obvious factor against Dubai Millennium seems to be the firm ground that Epsom tends to offer. The damp run-up this year has therefore encouraged connections. "He will definitely run at Epsom rather than go to France," Sheikh Mohammed said. "I am not worried about the hill at Epsom. He handled the uphill and downhill well here and, as far as staying a mile and a half is concerned, there is stamina on the dam's side."

Dettori added: "We don't want it firm. The horse is a mountain, he's very heavy-topped and if it is too firm he might be hitting it too hard. Good to firm is fine, as long as the sting is out of the ground.

"I would probably wait longer [at Epsom] now I know what the horse has got. I could ride a different sort of race and instead of sending him on four out I could bide my time."

Adair will have a serious piece of work, possibly a racecourse gallop, in the next week, but whatever the display he will not be Godolphin's preferred runner on the Surrey downs. The identity of that figure was given to us yesterday both by Dubai Millennium and Sheikh Mohammed.

DERBY (Epsom, 5 June): Coral: 6-1 Beat All, Dubai Millennium, Oath, 8- 1 Lucido, 12-1 Adair, Brancaster, Housemaster, Salford Express. William Hill: 6-1 Beat All, Dubai Millennium, 7-1 Oath, 8-1 Lucido, 10-1 Adair, 12-1 Housemaster, Montjeu. Ladbrokes: 5-1 Beat All, 7-1 Dubai Millennium, Oath, 8-1 Lucido, 10-1 Adair. Tote: 7-1 Beat All, Dubai Millennium, Lucido, Oath, 10-1 Montjeu, 11-1 Adair, Salford Express.