Racing: Millennium makes all in the mud

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The Independent Online
IT WAS a performance marked by splashes of terrain and splashes of brilliance. Dubai Millennium won the rainsoaked Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville yesterday in the manner of a rather talented horse. The world's richest race, the Dubai World Cup, is now the shining target on his horizon.

Dubai Millennium was not gifted this Group One race. He had to show mettle from the front in shifting ground before surging away from his four rivals. Sendawar, the winner of the St James's Palace Stakes, was absent because of the going and connections would have been congratulating themselves last night. The conditions would have been something to cope with. But Dubai Millennium was an influence again. "This horse is a champion," Frankie Dettori, the winning jockey, said.

It was Dettori's 201st Group winner. The Italian was not afraid to take up the running on his Godolphin partner and the remainder of the field formed a line behind waiting to exploit any weakness. There was, however, to be no slackening. Dubai Millennium surged forward in the closing stages as the toilers struggled through the debris of turf he left behind. Slickly got closest, two and a half lengths back, with Dansili another length in arrears.

Dettori was pleased with both himself and the manner of victory. "I didn't want to go slowly early on because if you make it a good test a champion will come through," he said.

Dubai Millennium paid 1.4-1 on the Pari-mutuel, which would have been of a little use except to big-hitters. The real punter to be over the weekend was John Lovelock of Bermondsey in London, who may soon have old friends in contact from all points west. Our great friend (as we must now call him) was the first winner of the Tote's Scoop6 bet on Saturday, when he collected over pounds 172,000 for a pounds 2 bet. Gorgeous John (another recent sobriquet) now qualifies for an attempt at the Tote's pounds 200,000 bonus fund on Saturday.

Before then Godolphin will run Almutawakel in the International Stakes at York tomorrow. At least one obstacle was removed from consideration for the Arab team yesterday when it was announced that Fruits Of Love would not be among the combatants. Mark Johnston's colt, third to Daylami in the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes, has more exotic locations on the agenda. "Fruits Of Love doesn't run, there are too many ifs and buts just two days before a Group One," Johnston said. "The going would be on the soft side for him and there are showers forecast. He's a bit heavy at the moment on 505 kilos compared to 500 kilos in Dubai, which is the heaviest he's won off."

The trainer can now console himself with the thought that he will have to supervise Fruits Of Love at some rather pleasant venues. It will be tough, but there will be compensations. "We haven't ruled out putting him in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown but that is an expensive race to supplement for and we may face the same problems again with the going," Johnston said. "His main targets are the Canadian International on 17 October followed by the Breeders' Cup Turf and the Japan Cup, so it wouldn't be the end of the world if he didn't run before Canada because he would be having three races inside six weeks."


Going: Heavy

2.35: (1m Prix Jacques le Marois)

1. DUBAI MILLENNIEUM (L Dettori); 2. Slickly; 3. Dansili. 5 ran. 21/2. 1. (Saeed bin Suroor). Pari-mutuel: 1.40; 1.60, 1.50. Straight forecast: 7.60. NR: Sendawar.