After Zahrat Dubai sprang forward magnificently in the Musidora Stakes, Godolphin's trainer, Saeed bin Suroor, said: "Last year I said we would have 10 Group One winners and I thought we were in trouble until Swain won the King George. They thought I was mad.
``But, in the end, we won 12. This year we have good horses. We have the Dubai World Cup and the 2,000 Guineas already. I think we will win 15."
If there has been a setback for Godolphin recently it has come in the shape of Adair's acclimatisation in this country. The horse bought from the United States appears to have left his heart there judged by recent efforts on the Newmarket trial grounds. He came in after serious exercise on Friday and refused to eat his supper.
"When he worked at the weekend he was a little bit depressed afterwards," Simon Crisford, the Godolphin racing manager, said yesterday. "He didn't eat up as well as we had hoped. We thought we'd back off and give him a few days without hard training. Hopefully he'll get to the Derby and there will be no problem but we'll give him an easy time at present.''
These would be dire signals for most stables, but the strength of Godolphin is that they have a very large basket stuffed full of Faberge eggs. Mukhalif has already been beaten this year but will further test his Derby credentials tomorrow and then there is always Dubai Millennium, who destroyed a field at Doncaster last week. The latter would be compromised, however, by firm ground at Epsom. "I would prefer to run Dubai Millennium in good ground or good to soft, but not firm," bin Suroor said. "He's a big and heavy horse so he wouldn't like firm ground.''
Before the tears come forth for the boys in blue though, it should be pointed out that there is yet another beast who may carry their favour in the Derby. And it now appears that Slip Stream has been invested with their main hopes.
Slip Stream's form is hardly the stuff to have punters sprinting to the High Street shop. His sole start last season came at a sodden Leicester, albeit a victory by a nonchalant four lengths.
He was supervised by the David Loder feeder farm that day but was immediately conscripted into Sheikh Mohammed's Emirates army. His service over the Dubai winter was most convincing. "He's in very good condition and I'm so happy with him," bin Suroor said. "I think a mile and a quarter is just right for him now. We wouldn't run any horse in a race like the Dante unless he was ready. Tomorrow we find out more but he is probably our horse to run in the Derby.''
Slip Stream will indeed have to be useful to see off a field strong even by Dante Stakes standards this afternoon. His most dangerous opponent should be Beat All, but that colt is not a certain starter after heavy showers yesterday. Sir Michael Stoute, his trainer, will walk the track this morning.
York's is a meaningful trial as four of its last 13 winners (Shahrastani, Reference Point, Erhaab and Benny The Dip) have followed up at Epsom.
The certainty is that whatever wins this afternoon will plummet in price for the Blue Riband. Make sure then that you secure the morning 10-1 (with the Tote) about SLIP STREAM (nap 3.10).Reuse content