Racing: Supersub Diktat lays down the law

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The Independent Online
THE SUPERSUB is off the bench for good. Diktat, the latest putative star from the Godolphin squad, came through his big-time trial with flying colours here yesterday. The four-year-old gave weight and a nonchalant beating to his five rivals in the seven-furlong Criterion Stakes and will now step up in class and distance.

The Sussex Stakes at Goodwood next month beckons for the colt, who has been the Dubai-based operation's great white hope to step into the shoes of Intikhab, last year's champion miler who has been forced into retirement by injury.

Simon Crisford, the Godolphin racing manager, was relieved after Diktat, who made an impressive seasonal debut in May but missed Royal Ascot, strode home a length and a half clear of Raise A Grand, who was receiving a stone. "That was very pleasing, the perfect stepping stone for him," he said. "Never mind the No 12 shirt, it's the No 11 now."

Diktat, a dark brown son of Warning, a former star miler, tracked his rivals until Frankie Dettori chose his moment half-way through the penultimate furlong, balanced the colt for a stride or two, then launched him past the others up the final hill to a result that was never thereafter in doubt.

The white-faced colt, whose three victories from four runs last year included the Jersey Stakes at Royal Ascot, joined Godolphin from David Loder during the close season. Yesterday's was his first race on fast ground. "He wasn't risked on it as a three-year-old," added Crisford, "but he's stronger and more mature now. He will be perfect coming off a strong pace and we hope that he will be a genuine Group One contender."

Another horse due to take on better company is the Queen's progressive four-year-old Blueprint, who followed up his comfortable win in a Royal Ascot handicap with a four-length defeat of Yavana's Pace in the Listed Fred Archer Stakes.

A few minutes after Diktat's win, his stablemate Calando redeemed the reputation dented by a poor run in the French Oaks with a close third place in the Pretty Polly Stakes at the Curragh. One place in front of her in the Group Two contest was the other British challenger, the Paul Cole-trained Lady In Waiting, who was inched out on the line by local outsider Polaire.

The destination of the Northumberland Plate,the day's richest prize and the second most valuable two-mile handicap in the world (after the Melbourne Cup), was also decided by inches. The 9-2 joint-favourites Far Cry and Travelmate flashed past the post locked together after a titanic tussle, during which neither horse flinched under sustained pressure.

Kevin Darley sent Far Cry past Just In Time two furlongs out, but Ray Cochrane had the move covered and unleashed Travelmate with a powerful run, which took him narrowly past his rival close home. But Far Cry rallied in the final stride and the camera showed it was his black muzzle in front on the line. The pounds 71,850 prize was fine consolation for the Martin Pipe- trained four-year-old's connections after his second place over two and a half miles at Royal Ascot only 11 days previously.

After today's Irish Derby and Grand Prix de Paris, the European Group One circus moves to Sandown on Saturday for the Eclipse Stakes, the season's first top-level clash of the generations over 10 furlongs. Godolphin horses have won two of the last three runnings and, at yesterday's supplementary stage, the Dubai-based team added last year's winner Daylami and Xaar, third at Royal Ascot on his seasonal debut, to the field.

Philip Mitchell also entered the globe-trotting Running Stag, winner of a Grade Two handicap at Belmont Park in New York a fortnight ago. Daylami, successful in the Coronation Cup at Epsom earlier this month, is 5-2 favourite with the sponsors Coral to become the first dual Eclipse winner since Halling carried the same colours to victory in 1995 and 1996.

Last season Daylami beat Faithful Son and Central Park in a unique Group One clean sweep of the places by Godolphin. A repeat may be on the cards with Happy Valentine also in the race, but the competition is stronger than last year with Croco Rouge and Shiva, plus the three-year-olds Fantastic Light and Saffron Walden entered.

The proposed target for Godolphin's Derby disappointment Dubai Millennium, who misses this afternoon's Grand Prix de Paris, will be another 10-furlong race, the Prix Eugene Adam at Maisons-Laffitte next month. The colt's absence today leaves Brancaster, 10th in the Derby, as the sole British raider at Longchamp. Peter Chapple-Hyam's charge faces seven rivals, including French Derby flops Slickly and Gracioso.