Racing: Millennium marks time

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The Independent Online
IF DUBAI MILLENNIUM wins today's rescheduled Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, he will be the 53rd Group One winner worldwide for Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin team. The total has been accrued over six years. To put it in perspective, the Aga Khan, one of the Dubai-based operation's few rivals at the elite level, has notched 59 Group One victories, but the first was Kalamoun, 26 years ago. Mind you, the scores have been racked up under different constraints. Sheikh Mohammed buys what he fancies, as yearlings or head-hunted as proven performers, but the Aga is content to enjoy what nature serves up; he breeds his own.

Ironically, it was the withdrawal late in the week of the latest star in the green-and-red, Sendawar, that has taken away the competitiveness of today's race and any significance as the decider for the season's mile championship. The immovable object has been removed and the way is clear for the irresistible force.

The prowess of Dubai Millennium at the top level over a mile has been almost a bonus, given his long-term target is, as his name implies, next year's Dubai World Cup. The son of Seeking The Gold proved he could handle hock-deep ground when he made all the running to take the Prix Jacques le Marois in a bog at Deauville last month and today's similarly small field and stiff mile will suit him ideally. What he will make of the sand at Nad El Sheba next March remains to be seen.

The afternoon's opener, the Fillies' Mile, gives Frankie Dettori every chance of a prestige double at his favourite meeting and the opportunity to garner more favourable publicity than that which Thursday's ill-advised Newsnight programme about alleged diuretics abuse thrust upon him. The jockey, who feels his reputation may have been damaged by a sensationalist publicity handout, will decide this week whether or not to take legal action against the BBC.

His mount in the Fillies' Mile, a race which has produced top-class animals such as Reams Of Verse, Bosra Sham and Sleepytime in recent renewals, is the Clive Brittain-trained Teggiano, a lovely daughter of Mujtahid who is improving by the minute. She is unproven on very soft ground, but is more battle- hardened than her main rival High Walden, a relation of Reams Of Verse and like her and the other aforementioned Classic winners trained by Henry Cecil.

The colt's equivalent race, the Royal Lodge Stakes, has been less reliable in recent years in spotlighting future stars, but the new pounds 1m bonus to a horse which wins either of the two-year-old races and either the St James's Palace or Coronation Stakes at next summer's Royal meeting might start to lift its reputation. Brittain can put himself in line for his cut of both with Best Of The Bests, who has a bit to do yet to justify his bold name but will take another solid step along the way if he can see off the Aidan O'Brien candidate Royal Kingdom.

Virtually as soon as the Ascot executive pulled the plug on yesterday's proceedings it stopped raining and, after a sunny afternoon in Berkshire, there are definite hopes that today's nine-race card can go ahead, although there will be an inspection this morning. If the day is abandoned there, there is the option of transferring the Group One races to this week's Newmarket meeting, where one of the high spots may be the appearance of the 2,000 Guineas favourite, Fasilyev, one of 11 declared for the Middle Park Stakes on Thursday.

With Ascot gone, yesterday's racing owed little to quality but John Dunlop achieved a notable mark when Jathaab's Haydock win made him the first trainer to reach 100 winners this term. The stablemates Starry Night, Mahara and, at Nottingham, Dollar Bird and Badaayer, followed up for a five-timer.

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