The latest in the season's succession of Sea The Stars tribute acts took centre stage yesterday as Delegator, who beat all bar the superstar in the 2,000 Guineas, made a perfect first appearance in the Godolphin strip in the Celebration Mile. And, judging by the instant acceleration shown by the son of Dansili, Group One glory of his own is only a matter of time. His next opportunity will be in next month's Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.
The blues headhunted Delegator from Brian Meehan after the colt's narrow defeat by more battle-hardened Mastercraftsman in the St James's Palace Stakes and yesterday was the first time Frankie Dettori had ridden him in anger. And the Italian recognised that what he felt was what separates the best from the merely very, very good. "This is a proper horse," he said. "I haven't ridden one like him for a while."
And that is exactly one of the reasons why Godolphin, who have a bright-looking youth squad this term but have been short of top-class ammunition in Europe recently – they have not won a Group One in these parts since Creachadoir took the Lockinge Stakes in May last year – moved for Delegator.
The white-faced bay started at 4-6 after strong support. Slightly keen early on as Ordnance Row set a steady trail, he was slightly pocketed on the rails going to the final furlong on this cambered track as his chief rival Zacinto came past in pursuit of the leader. But once Dettori angled out into the clear and asked for acceleration, the response was immediate. In half a furlong Delegator put daylight between himself and Zacinto, who held Ordnance Row by a head.
"Good horses can get themselves out of trouble," said Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford. "He has got that turn of foot and his class showed. It was all there in the formbook and we'd hoped to see that kind of performance, but first time for a new stable you never know. He's always looked special and we were very keen to have him after Royal Ascot, though we weren't the only ones."
After the QEII, Delegator's first foreign foray will be to California for the Breeders' Cup Mile, where last year's winner, the star French four-year-old Goldikova, will be waiting. "We'd certainly be worried about taking her on," added Crisford, "but Santa Anita will suit our fellow and that's what horse racing is all about, matching one good one against another."
The transfer fee for Delegator has not been disclosed, but whatever it was it means that his breeder and former owner Pauline Good – who still has Ordnance Row running for her – is unlikely to have to work again.
One of Godolphin's other expensive buys, though, proved a disappointment yesterday. Urban Poet, a $2.9 million yearling, failed his St Leger exam in the March Stakes, trailing in sixth of seven behind globetrotting five-year-old Mourilyan. But Sheikh Mohammed's elite stable already houses the favourite for the final Classic in Kite Wood, who sparkled in a six-furlong workout in Newmarket yesterday morning.
Mourilyan finished third to Kite Wood at Newbury 15 days ago and before that second to another Godolphin inmate, Schiaparelli, at Goodwood, but he tends to flatter to deceive and was given a masterclass of a ride by Ryan Moore yesterday. The champion kept him in among others until well inside the final furlong before pouncing, hardly giving his mount the chance to realise that he was in a race before he had it won, by three clear lengths.
The contest for potentially high-class fillies, the Prestige Stakes, produced a finish of inches. A furlong out Sent From Heaven was clear but as the pack closed she hung on by just a nose from Mudaaraah, with Snow Fairy a short-head third. "She may have one more run this year," said trainer Barry Hills' son and assistant Charlie. "She'll stay a mile and we think she could be a Guineas filly."
One of the early favourites for next year's 1,000 Guineas, Lillie Langtry, puts her reputation on the line against six rivals today at the Curragh in the Moyglare Stud Stakes.Reuse content