Racing: Muhtarram heads Million challenge: European rivals past and present prepare to test home-grown American talent at Arlington Park

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The Independent Online
THE wholesale failure which has followed recent British runners at the Breeders' Cup might have persuaded their more pessimistic supporters that horses trained in America are fundamentally superior to our own. In Sunday's Arlington Million in Chicago, it will fall to John Gosden's Muhtarram and Spartan Shareef, from the yard of the ever-enterprising Clive Brittain, to prove otherwise.

They are among 17 entries for what was once the richest race on the planet, and the European challenge will be bolstered by two runners from France, Petit Loup and Jeune Homme. Of the remaining entries, no fewer than five started their careers in Britain, most memorably User Friendly, the 1992 Oaks winner, though she is more likely to run in Saturday's Beverley D Stakes, and Blues Traveller, third to Commander In Chief in last year's Derby. More effort is needed to recall Wharf, once a useful performer for Henry Cecil, while Marastani and Fanmore were no more than decent handicappers.

American trainers might see the improvement in such emigres as Marastani and Fanmore as evidence of the superiority of their techniques. British handlers might respond that even half-decent horses from this side of the ocean are, once acclimatised, the equals of the best in the States. In truth, their records show nothing more than that some British horses prefer the American way. We do not hear about the exports which do not prosper.

Muhtarram, in a sense, has a foot in both camps, since John Gosden, his trainer, spent the formative years of his professional life in California. Reports from the track yesterday indicate that he travelled well, which must have been a considerable relief to his connections. His trip to California last year for a race on the Breeders' Cup undercard left him so distressed that he was unable to take part. Though Clive Brittain's runners can never quite be written off, Muhtarram has a more realistic chance of emulating Tolomeo and Teleprompter with success in the Million.


Redcar: 1.50 Top Prize, 2.20 Carlton Express, 2.50 Miss Ritz, 3.20 Mamlakah (nb), 3.50 Mr Towser, 4.20 French Grit, 4.50 PENNINE PINK (nap).

Brighton: 2.00 Thick As Thieves, 2.30 Cindy's Star, 3.00 Ziggy's Dancer, 3.30 Lady Tumbleweed, 4.00 Exhibit Air, 4.30 Cast The Line.

Exeter: 2.10 Danielle Habibi, 2.40 Qualitair Memory, 3.10 Kingofspancilhill, 3.40 My Swan Song, 4.10 Crosula, 4.40 Corrin Hill, 5.10 Singers Image.