Racing: Nedawi Classic super sub

St Leger: Godolphin second string does the business as Swain shines for Dettori in Ireland
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The Independent Online
SHEIKH MOHAMMED'S attack on the weekend's prestige races started with military precision yesterday as Nedawi won a dramatic and thrilling 222nd St Leger here on Town Moor and 20 minutes later Swain romped home in the Champion Stakes at Leopardstown.

Both horses carry the royal blue silks of their owner's Godolphin operation and although the Dubai-based team have bypassed Austria and Poland in the quest for European domination - there is, after all, no credible racing in either country - today they march mob-handed into Paris as Sea Wave, Central Park, Predappio and Bahr line up for the three trials at Longchamp for the Arc, which Swain will now miss - after his victory in Ireland it was announced he he will go straight for the Breeders' Cup Turf before retiring to stud in Kentucky.

The St Leger, the world's oldest, longest and toughest Classic, may be under siege by those who question its role in the modern era, but there was little to fault about yesterday's race - in which Nedawi, the favourite, beat High And Low by half a length, followed in by Sunshine Street and Sadian - as a spectacle.

Nine horses jumped from the stalls almost opposite the grandstands and High And Low, the sole filly in the field, instantly went to her favoured position at the front.

And her efforts to stay there, and become the 42nd of her sex to claim the race, were simply a joy to behold. As the field turned into the long, unrelenting straight for the run to the line Jimmy Fortune began to wind her up into top gear, never doubting that the daughter of Rainbow Quest would see out the extended mile and three-quarter distance.

The ploy to test his rivals to, and past, their limits very nearly succeeded. One by one the colts - the March Stakes winner Ta-Lim, the Derby fourth Sunshine Street and Sadian - tried to get on terms with the filly and one by one they failed. Half-way down the straight it seemed that Nedawi, too, who had already been slightly hampered on the descent from Rose Hill, was an impotent force as he appeared trapped on the rails.

High And Low was still in front passing the furlong marker, but by now John Reid had extracted Nedawi. Fortune began to ride in earnest and gave the filly a smack; her tail flashed once, then again, an indication that she was already giving everything, thank you.

But the theatre of the piece was not yet played out for as Reid made his move on Nedawi, racing for only the fourth time in his life, the chestnut colt suddenly jinked violently to his right. The unexpected manoeuvre allowed the supporters of High And Low a momentary rekindling of hope, but Reid swiftly put Nedawi back on tracks, the colt changed his leading leg and surged to what was, in the end, a cosy enough victory.

It was the 43-year-old Ulsterman's first St Leger, and, although the tenth European Classic for Godolphin, the first for the outfit with one of their own youth squad. The previous nine came courtesy of animals poached from other yards.

The beautifully bred Nedawi - he is a son of Rainbow Quest and a Northern Dancer daughter of champion mare Dahlia - was the least experienced member of yesterday's field with only three previous races and surely has a bright future in the top staying races next year.

It was his greenness that produced the swerve - the instinctive reaction of a flight animal, even one coming under pressure, to a sudden nearby movement - that almost cost him the Group One prize. Reid said: "As I asked him to go, he hung fire behind the filly for a moment. I pulled my whip through and it startled him. It frightened me, too, and it must have cost him a length. But I was never that worried as I always felt I had plenty of horse under me."

Reid came in for the ride on Nedawi only because Frankie Dettori was despatched to Ireland to ride Swain. The admirable six-year-old made short work of a high-class selection of opponents, taking over from his pacemaker early in the straight and coming home an eased-down length clear of Alborada, followed by Xaar and One So Wonderful.

Fortune, too, was on a spare, having landed in High And Low's saddle after Michael Hills elected to partner her stablemate The Glow-Worm, who beat only Ardleigh Charmer. The irony of the finishing order was probably not lost on Reid, whose position as number one at Robert Sangster's Manton has been the subject of much recent speculation and whose successor is touted as none other than Fortune.

After watching yesterday's Group One successes, Godolphin's racing manager, Simon Crisford said: "That is the first part of the yankee. As far as the Longchamp races are concerned, it would be nice to win but the primary objective is three weeks hence."

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