Racing: Pain of the Swain drain

Sue Montgomery finds that Newmarket is losing out to an American dream
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The Independent Online
ONE OF the regrets about Newmarket's self-styled Champions' Day is that the one horse with pretensions to the eponymous title this season will not be present on the Rowley Mile this Saturday. Swain, dual winner of the King George, would probably have won the Arc had he been allowed to take his chance and would have had an outstanding chance of following up in the Champion Stakes.

The excellent six-year-old's masters, the Godolphin team, are deploying his talents elsewhere. Swain runs in next month's Breeders' Cup meeting in Kentucky where, it emerged yesterday, his target may be the $4m Classic over a mile and a quarter on dirt rather than the Turf over a mile and a half.

There are bound to be some regrets that Swain did not run in the Arc, particularly as Godolphin's Sea Wave failed to shine, but their racing manager, Simon Crisford, said yesterday: "You can't dance to every beat otherwise you'll fall flat on your face. The Breeders' Cup has been his target since the King George and his programme has been geared so he'll be seen at his best there. You'd have to say, though, on the book he would have gone close in Paris."

Swain's understudy on Saturday, though, Daylami, will surely put up a sturdier show than Sea Wave. The handsome grey, winner of the Eclipse Stakes during the summer, comes to the Group One race off a victory in the Man O' War Stakes at Belmont Park, New York. "He took a while to recover from the race and the travelling," Crisford said, "which is why he missed the Arc. This is his race." Daylami had his final serious gallop yesterday in Newmarket, ridden by Frankie Dettori to finish the seven-furlong spin clear of his companions. "With the handbrake still on," Crisford added.

Daylami, who will ultimately retire to the Gilltown Stud in Ireland of his former owner, the Aga Khan, will form part of a formidable Godolphin team of older horses for next year, already boosted by the acquisition of Saratoga Springs and now by the announcement that Xaar, last season's top two-year-old, will henceforth carry the blue silks. The Dubai World Cup next March may be Xaar's first target. Crisford said: "There will be opportunities for the older brigade all over the world. Their appearances will not necessarily be confined to the shores of England."

Xaar looked a champion when he won last year's Dewhurst Stakes, the other Group One contest on Saturday's card. His seven-length victory rocketed him clear in the betting for the 2,000 Guineas and this year's renewal of the seven- furlong race again looks a decider for the ante-post market for the first colt's Classic.

In the absence of Josr Algarhoud, who will shortly leave Mick Channon's yard for Godolphin's winter quarters in Dubai, the two-year-old "big three" who will lock horns are the facile winner of the Middle Park Stakes, Lujain, who carries Sheikh Mohammed's maroon and white for the moment but will transfer to the blue when his trainer, David Loder, moves to France at the end of the season; the exciting Irish-trained Stravinsky, disqualified after going down by half a length to Godolphin's Aljabr in the Prix de la Salamandre at Longchamp last month; and Henry Cecil's colt Enrique, who retained his unbeaten record with a five-length annihilation of Lujain's well-regarded stablemate Berlioz in the Somerville Tattersall Stakes at Newmarket nine days ago.

The Dewhurst Stakes, first run in 1875 (as one of the first sponsored races; it was created to publicise a commercial stud of the same name) is now Britain's premier guide to the following year's top races. Winners and placed horses during the Nineties include Generous, Dr Devious, Zafonic, Grand Lodge, Pennekamp, Air Express and Tamarisk.