Racing: Sayyedati is supreme in style capital: A triumph for Brittain as his 1,000 Guineas winner defies the best of the French on their home territory

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The Independent Online
THE MOST powerful case yet this season for the title of champion miler was presented here yesterday as Sayyedati, Britain's sole challenger, swept away a favourite French prize, the Prix Jacques le Marois.

The home side do not like to see a treasured possession leaving their shores (Lear Fan in 1984 was the last winner from the other side of La Manche) and many good British horses have foundered in Normandy. The suggestion yesterday, though, was that a rare victory had been achieved by a filly with rare talent.

Sayyedati's trainer, Clive Brittain, was trembling with delight as he welcomed her back and placed her in lofty company. 'She must be in the mould of Pebbles (Brittain's 1985 Breeders' Cup Turf winner) because she's got that same electrifying burst of speed,' he said. This estimation was not contradicted by the winning jockey, Walter Swinburn. 'This is a proper horse,' he said. 'She compares with anything I've ridden over a mile.'

Swinburn felt he had earned a night out in Deauville with this success, and that will have meant a sumptuous evening to compare with the best any racing centre can offer.

They call the month-long meeting on the Normandy course la semaine, probably because the excesses at Deauville ensure a week feels like a lot longer. The eating experience usually involves food which looks as if it has been fashioned into shape under a microscope.

The coastal town is the archetypal rich man's playground; a town where coiffeured pets are a compulsory fashion accessory, where polo aficionados celebrate the highlight of their year, the Lancel Cup, and where cinema figures float past surreally as if you have wandered on to a film set.

The landscape looked far less alluring to Swinburn yesterday however as his small plane cruised in over Le Havre. Rain lashed the fuselage, bringing with it fear, not for personal safety, but that the ground would be too soft for Sayyedati.

Deauville, though, had escaped the squall and for Swinburn there were to be no more worrying moments. Even as a battery of three horses wearing the colours of Stavros Niarchos buzzed around menacingly at the head of the field, the jockey felt comfortable at the rump of proceedings. 'It was a slow pace (a handicap later in the day was run three seconds faster) and everybody was travelling well,' he reported. 'But I was very happy where I was and she was always going sweetly.'

A furlong from home the contestants fanned out in customary French manner, but the one horse to break free was Sayyedati. Close home, as the favourite Kingmambo (who was later found to have lost a shoe) faded, Andre Fabre's Ski Paradise looked as though she might be able to mount a challenge, but this, the race jockeys revealed, was little more than an optical illusion.

Pat Eddery, Ski Paradise's rider, said he had been baulked as he began his surge, but would never have caught Sayyedati anyway, while Swinburn added that his filly had reserves to repel anything that came at her.

'She's got this thing about hitting the front, like in the Guineas when she was tying up at the end,' he said. 'But what impressed me today was the last 100 yards or so when, for an awful moment, I thought Pat might get me, but she put her neck out. She looked around a bit when she hit the front, but when the other horse came at her she went again.'

Swinburn believes Sayyedati to have only just reached her peak, despite the fact that she captured the 1,000 Guineas earlier this season. 'Now you're seeing the real Sayyedati,' he said. 'Even though she was a Guineas winner in the spring there was something missing from her performances.

'I would love to know what her racing weight is now because I'd bet she'd be 50 kilos heavier than she was on Nell Gwyn day (at Newmarket in April). On that day she looked terrible. All credit must go to Clive, who's done a fantastic job with her.'

The job for Brittain, though, is only half done as the game plan since she won her Classic has been geared around the Breeders' Cup Mile, a race, incidentally, which was captured in 1987 and 1988 by the filly that had previously won the Prix Jacques le Marois in those years, Miesque.

'The owner (Mohammed Obaida) asked me after the Guineas to train her specifically for the Breeders' Cup,' Brittain said. 'When it was first discussed I said that realistically it was not a race for three-year-olds because it's difficult to go through the season picking up race after race and then expecting a horse to peak at the end of a season. That's why she has not had a hard time, with four races spread over a fair time. We needed to save something.'

Sayyedati's final race before Santa Anita in November is likely to be the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot next month, though the Prix Moulin and a rematch with Kingmambo is also a possibility. 'I also put her in the Haydock Sprint Cup just in case we needed to sharpen her up,' the trainer said, 'but I think we saw today she's sharp enough already.'

Swinburn expects Sayyedati to show her sharpest form of all at the Breeders' Cup. 'She'll be even better suited by a good gallop like they get America, where she can go with them and use her cruising speed before kicking at the end,' he said. 'I'll enjoy riding her there.' But probably not as much as he enjoyed his celebratory evening in swaggering Deauville.

(Photograph omitted)