Racing: Waltz glides away from French fillies

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VALENTINE WALTZ underlined the strength of Britain's fillies when she swept away the Continent's finest in the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (French 1,000 Guineas) at Longchamp yesterday.

John Gosden's representative, who had been third in the Newmarket equivalent, looked an extremely useful animal as she sprinted down the centre of the track past Karmifira and Godolphin's Calando for a two-length success.

"They went a cracking pace and I liked the way she won," Gosden said. "Avoiding soft ground is the key with her and it just came right today. She ran a great race in the Guineas from a terrible draw, but this is a great compliment to Wince [the 1,000 Guineas winner].

"She is a tough little thing to come back and run like this after her hard race in the Guineas. The Coronation Stakes is a likely target."

Longchamp's opening Classic, the Poule d'Essai des Poulains (French 2,000 Guineas) had a touch of Aintree to it with a malfunction at the start. One of the stalls failed to open, but, on this occasion, there was no confusion with the flagman and all the runners pulled up smartly.

If this had all been designed to put the visitors off their stroke then it was a hugely effective ploy. The Aga Khan's Sendawar led a clean sweep for the home side, with Mujahid, the 2,000 Guineas third, proving best of the travelling contingent in a dead-heat for fifth.

Perhaps the most promising of France's Classic horses, the unbeaten Montjeu, had a humbling afternoon however. He was beaten in the Prix Lupin, and will come to Britain for the Derby only if the going is conspicuously soft. His conqueror, Andre Fabre's Gracioso, is no certainty to cross the border either. More positive Epsom news may emerge after tomorrow's Predominate Stakes at Goodwood, in which Godolphin's Dubai Millennium seeks to advance his qualifications. Certainly, his unit could do with a change in fortune from their big guns.

Godolphin's Phileas Fogg weekend ended in deflation when they were defeated around the world. Perhaps the gravest disappointment came at Pimlico, where Wordly Manner ran in the Preakness Stakes, the second US Classic.

It was an odd night in Baltimore. One spectator apparently tried to kill himself when he stood in the middle of the track as a field galloped towards him. The 22-year-old man, who was arrested and detained for psychiatric evaluation, may or may not thank the jockeys for their skill in avoiding him.

The riding qualities to which we are more accustomed, in the Preakness itself, were largely provided by Chris Antley, who steered Charismatic to victory, just as he had in the Kentucky Derby. The partnership will now attempt the Triple Crown in the Belmont Stakes.

Worldy Manner was expected to be a more potent customer than he had been in the Derby, when he finished seventh. Down the Pimlico backstretch he moved into fourth, but then his effort combusted.

"My horse was doing great early on," Jerry Bailey, his jockey, said, "but he was done by the time he got to the backside."

Team Dubai was represented by their assistant trainer, Tom Albertrani, who was at a loss. "I can't explain things right now," he said. "We were in a good position but he just started backing up at the three-furlong pole."

There was the small mercy of an explanation to Lend A Hand's similarly poor offering in a Group Two race in Tokyo on Saturday. Darragh O'Donohoe's mount was reported to have suffered a nose bleed.

And while Godolphin secured the Lockinge Stakes at Newbury on Saturday it was not in the most pleasing of circumstances. Fly To The Stars might have been an admirably brave winner for the Emirates squad's 2nd XI, but there were worrying signals thrown out by Intikhab.

Europe's champion racehorse of 1998 was a shadow of the horse that took off at Royal Ascot last year and has some way to go to prove he has recovered fully from a splint injury. He was lame yesterday morning, though the problem is unrelated to the old splint.

Fly To The Stars apart, Godolphin's only other picking was Central Park's victory in Rome yesterday. "It's certainly been a bit of a roller-coaster weekend," Simon Crisford, the team's racing manager, said.


Dubai Poule d'Essai des Poulains (Group 1) (1m)

2:05: 1. SENDAWAR (G.Mosse); 2. Dansili; 3. Kingsala. (A de Royer-Dupre) 11/2, 3. Pari-Mutuel: (dividends include 1F stake) 4.70; 1.70, 1.80, 3.20. DF 9.80.

Dubai Poule d'Essai des Pouliches (Group 1) (1m)

2:35: 1. VALENTINE WALTZ (R Cochrane); 2. Karmifira; 3. Calando. (J Gosden) 2, 1/2. Pari-Mutuel: 5.30; 2.00, 8.30, 3.30. DF 136.90.

Prix Lupin (Group 1) (1m 21/2f)

3:50: 1. GRACIOSO (O Peslier); 2. Montjeu; 3. Obviously Fun. (A Fabre) 1, 6. Pari-Mutuel: 2.50. SF 8.60. NR: Festival Hall.