Racing: Mujahid makes punters pay

Dunlop's 25-1 outsider proves no respecter of big reputations in the Dewhurst
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The Independent Online
MUJAHID, a handsome bay colt trained by John Dunlop, blew away some mighty reputations on the wind-blasted heath here yesterday as he produced a 25-1 surprise in the season's premier two-year-old contest, the Dewhurst Stakes. Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum's home-bred son of Danzig came home two lengths clear of another outsider, the 20-1 chance Auction House, with the two joint-favourites Stravinsky and Enrique only third and fourth.

But unexpected does not always mean mediocre. Although Scenic, who shared the spoils ten years ago at 33-1, virtually disappeared without trace the same cannot be said of Generous, who scored at 50-1 two years later. Mujahid's performance - and the defeat of the perceived cracks - has promoted him to second favourite, behind the Godolphin candidate Aljabr, for next year's 2,000 Guineas in most bookmakers' lists.

It is just as well, horses cannot read the scripts prepared for them, otherwise Mujahid, easy winner of his first two races but a disappointing fifth in the Gimcrack Stakes, would not have had the temerity to jump out of the stalls in company with the likes of Stravinsky, Enrique and Lujain.

And at the mid-point of the seven-furlong contest he appeared outpaced as Auction House took the field along. But once the bullet had to be bitten in the final quarter mile and on the uphill run to the post, he was the one with the necessary reserves as Richard Hills sent him though a narrow gap between Enrique and Raise A Grand, for which manoeuvre he earned a two-day ban from the stewards.

Stravinsky, the Irish challenger, launched a challenge which petered out in the closing stages, allowing Auction House to stay on again into the runner-up spot. Lujain was another whose stamina was found wanting as he beat only Indian Danehill, the most disappointing French colt.

There is always a danger that Maktoum-owned two-year-olds will be whisked to Dubai for the winter but Dunlop will keep control of Mujahid, his first Dewhurst winner. "The ground at York last time was a little too firm for him and he came back sore. I thought he would run well today, but I did not really think we would beat all the top ones, and especially not so easily. But he has a very good character and attitude."

The favourite was also turned over in the other Group One feature, the Champion Stakes, though the result in this case was less of a shock as Alborada, 6-1, inched home from Insatiable for his 51-year-old jockey George Duffield. The filly, owned and bred by Kirsten Rausing and trained locally by Sir Mark Prescott, had chased the peerless Swain home in the Irish Champion Stakes and, given an inch-perfect ride by her partner, continued her upwardly mobile progress to hold Insatiable's late thrust by a neck. The market leader Daylami, feeling the effects of his recent trip to New York, battled on to take third place, two lengths adrift, in front of Mutamam. Prescott said: "George has ridden faultlessly every time he's got on this filly, but I'm glad the post came when it did."

Alborada - which means break of day in Spanish - saw her first dawn only a few miles from the track at Rausing's Lanwades Stud, still home of her dam and grand-dam. "Although it sounds somewhat fanciful, she was special from the word go," said Rausing. "And she is tough, too; she broke a foot as a foal and had to come through 11 weeks confined to her box."

The marathon handicap the Cesarewitch was remarkable for the small number of the 29 contenders who were ever in contention. The nine-length winner Spirit of Love, an 11-1 chance ridden by Olivier Peslier, was one of a small group who detached themselves from the rest in pursuit of Bridie's Pride. The three-year-old and his Mark Johnson-trained stablemate Etterby Park went past the leader three furlongs out; one drew steadily away and the other repelled the nearest other boarder, Spunkie, by a short-head.

On the other side of the world yesterday morning Taufan's Melody became the first British-trained horse to win at Group One level in Australia when he took the Caulfield Cup in Melbourne at 66-1. But his victory, by a short-neck from the 100-1 shot Lisa's Game with the favourite Tie The Knot third and the other raider, Faithful Son, fourth, was not without controversy.

The seven-year-old gelding, trained in Sussex by Lady Herries, had been allowed into the pounds 577,000 contest only at the 11th-hour discretion of the local officials after it was discovered his earnings did not qualify him. Then he had to survive a stewards inquiry to keep the race, one of the main trials for next month's Melbourne Cup.

His jockey Ray Cochrane, however, was handed a month's ban - which means he will miss the big one - and a pounds 7,600 fine after he was judged to have interfered with two rivals. The effort of Faithful Son, the Godolphin representative, was good enough to ensure him a place in the Melbourne Cup.