Racing: Mutafaweq will be back for more

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The Independent Online
ONE OF the more moronic platitudes on the turf is that the racehorse is the best looked-after animal around. This ignores the notion that old horsey in his natural state, on the Steppes for example, does not squash himself into a small box for 22 hours a day. It also disregards the fact that the pampered prisoner has to sing pretty hard for his cereal supper every now and again.

Nobody who saw Mutafaweq looking as though he was about to pass into another world after Saturday's 223rd St Leger would have recognised his as a poodle's profession. The unsteady winner had almost run himself to death. Mutafaweq was recovering yesterday from the traumas of dehydration and an injury to his rear quarters. His Godolphin masters have signed him off for this season but expect him to return next. They hope he suffers from amnesia. "It was a worrying time for everybody, but the horse is okay," Simon Crisford, the Godolphin racing manager, said yesterday. "It was a reaction to a hard run. Let's hope it doesn't leave any mental scars."

The Turkish bath that was Town Moor on Saturday had an early effect on Mutafaweq. He emerged on to the racecourse stained with sweat, his nostrils flaring with excitement. The colt was flat out for the final three furlongs of his assignment and then almost flat out on the Yorkshire grass as exertions took their toll. In the winners' enclosure he reared, bucked and flashed his tail. He lashed out as if stung by a hornet as it became clear to connections that something was badly wrong. "When you see a horse in acute distress like that you begin to wonder if a major catastrophe has happened internally," one vet who treated Mutafaweq said. The horse veered between wild spasm and near collapse until he was returned to the pre-parade ring. There he was hosed down and daubed with sponges before being led into the intensive-care unit of the veterinary treatment box. Buckets of water were relayed into the unit. An emergency drip was strapped round a beam and fed into Mutafaweq's jugular vein. It was a miserable reward for a brave animal.

"The horse seems to have suffered from heatstroke and post-race exhaustion," the vet said. "He was very dehydrated and he probably had a tremendous increase in his inner temperature which caused the unco-ordination and discomfort. "It's a condition we see not infrequently on the racetrack, particularly when you have got a long, fast race on a muggy day without any airflow. It's a condition you see fairly frequently in California and Florida. Some horses there they spray with alcohol, which causes evaporation and they cool pretty quickly, and they always have buckets of iced water to hand. It happens more often with dark-coloured horses because they absorb the heat more. He [Mutafaweq] had an intravenous drip, 10 litres of a glucose saline solution. He had a sedative to settle him down, anti- inflammatory to speed recovery and painkillers to make him more comfortable behind. He's had a real cocktail. He's run his heart out basically."

When Mutafaweq eventually did emerge, at 4.40, almost exactly an hour after the sports, he still appeared shattered, his head bowed like a worshipper's. His eyes were half closed and he was drifting around on medication. Peace at last.

By then though the colt was no longer Godolphin's most recent Group One winner. That title was usurped by Daylami, who did not have to flay himself so much in Leopardstown's Champion Stakes. That made it 14 Group Ones this year for Team Dubai, one better that in 1995 and the year of Lammtarra. It was not, however, a long party. "We're pleased but we're not going to dwell on it," Crisford said. "We put a lot of pressure on ourselves at the beginning of each season and so we should. We get handed this raw material of premium quality and anything less than we have achieved could be deemed to be unsatisfactory."

And Godolphin had to make do with that. Group One race No 15 was denied at Longchamp yesterday when Etizaaz, the team's main runner in the Prix Vermeille at Longchamp, was beaten by Daryaba. The winner runs in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, as do two other winners on yesterday's card. El Condor Pasa, the Japan Cup winner, is third favourite following his success in the Prix Foy. He has ahead of him Daylami, a top-priced 11- 4 with the Tote even though the Arc has yet to be confirmed as a target, and yesterday's Prix Niel winner, Montjeu.

The Niel has produced the last three Arc winners in Sagamix, Peintre Celebre and Helissio, but Montjeu was eased in the betting after his subdued victory from Peter Chapple-Hyam's Bienamado. "He was a little uptight today but that was to be expected," John Hammond, the winning trainer, said. "He's coming off a lay-off, he hasn't run for 10 weeks and I think he needed the run today, mentally as well as physically. We're happy that today has gone the right way, and we'll take the Arc as it comes."


2.10: (1m 4f Prix Foy) 1. EL CONDOR PASA (M Ebina); 2. Borgia; 3 Croco Rouge. 3 ran. Sh-nk, 1/2. (Y Ninomiya) Pari-Mutuel: 1.30. NR: Sagamix.

3.15: (1m 4f Prix Vermeille) 1. DARYABA (G Mosse); 2. Etizaaz; 3. Cerulean Sky. 11 ran. 21/2. (A de Royer Dupre). Pari Mutuel: 1.80; 1.60, 2.30, 3.60.

3.45: (1m 4f Prix Niel) 1. MONTJEU (M J Kinane); 2. Bienamado; 3. First Magnitude. 4 ran. Hd. (J E Hammond). Pari-Mutuel: 1.10; 1.10, 1.00.

ARC BETTING: William Hill: 7-4 (with a run) Daylami, 2-1 Montjeu, 7-2 El Condor Pasa, 12-1 Daryaba, 14-1 others. Ladbrokes: 7-4 Daylami, 5-2 Montjeu, 9-2 El Condor Pasa, 10-1 Daryaba, Tiger Hill, 16-1 others. Tote: 7-4 Montjeu, 11-4 Daylami, 9-2 El Condor Pasa, 10-1 Adair, 16-1 others.