Godolphin aim for Classics on two continents
Though the stable has failed to muster a starter in the Qipco 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket on Saturday, the changing complexion of Godolphin still leaves much to anticipate. For one thing, Mahmood al-Zarooni has two strong chances in the fillies' Classic the following day, in Discourse and Lyric Of Light, a year after sealing his promotion to supervise a yard in his own right through Blue Bunting – who was relieving a Godolphin drought, in both the early Classics, going back to 2002.
In the meantime, the royal blue silks will be carried in the Kentucky Derby by Alpha. Again, this colt represents a shift in policy as Sheikh Mohammed had long craved to win this race with a migrant from his own homeland, but Alpha's career has been supervised locally by Kiaran McLaughlin.
Remarkably, something akin to the sheikh's original strategy is instead being attempted on Saturday, for the second year running, by his long-standing antagonists at Ballydoyle. Last year, Master Of Hounds ran fifth at Churchill Downs after a photo-finish defeat in the UAE Derby; this time round, Daddy Long Legs represents Co Tipperary after winning at Meydan in March.
With Godolphin's global operation palpably evolving, its senior trainer may well be looking to his laurels. Saeed bin Suroor will have been gratified, then, by the breakthrough success of a new recruit, Colour Vision, at Kempton yesterday. The Blue Square Sagaro Stakes, salvaged by the Levy Board from a waterlogged card at Ascot, was run at a strong gallop and Frankie Dettori's restraint on the grey enabled him to burst from last to first in the straight, seeing off Red Cadeaux by a length and a half, with the pair miles clear.
Having progressed through handicaps as a three-year-old, when trained by Mark Johnston, Colour Vision now looks an eligible candidate for the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot. Coral duly halved his odds to 8-1.
Simon Crisford, the Godolphin manager, confirmed Ascot as Colour Vision's main target, perhaps taking in the Henry II Stakes at Sandown en route. "I can't say we were expecting that, because we thought he was a bit undercooked," Crisford admitted. "But he clearly runs very well fresh."
Ed Dunlop was pleased with his Red Cadeaux, who was beaten a nose in the Melbourne Cup last autumn. "It was a good run with a 3lb penalty," the trainer said. "He has been beaten by a progressive horse, but this was very much a prep for the Yorkshire Cup. All being well, later in the year we'll be going back to Melbourne, but I wanted to get him out in the early part of the season."
Crisford, meanwhile, added that Godolphin's two acceptors in the 2,000 Guineas would both be found alternative targets. Mandaean, transferred to Al Zarooni after winning both starts at two for André Fabre, will wait for the Betfred Dante Stakes on 17 May; Mighty Ambition, who ran a disappointing trial in the Craven Stakes, will have his sights lowered.
As for Alpha, he was given some extra schooling at the starting gate yesterday after playing up on his last visit to Louisville, when down the field in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. He has since won his first two starts of 2012, before rallying for a close second in the Wood Memorial, perhaps the key East Coast trial. "It would be priceless to be able to win this race for Sheikh Mohammed," McLaughin said. "It would mean so much to everybody that is involved with him, and us. He's touched so many lives in our industry."
Back at Newmarket, the Rowley Mile dried out in a stiff breeze and is now good to soft, but more rain is expected.
Chris McGrath's Nap
Hi There (4.00 Musselburgh) Shaped well on his first start for Richard Fahey – and first since being gelded – when travelling strongly on Beverley reappearance, only fading late. Likely to last longer this time.
Ihtiraam (3.40 Lingfield) Frankie Dettori's only ride of the day looks dangerously well treated for a well-bred filly who won her only start at two, and is certain to relish the extra furlong.
One to watch
After threatening to drop right out, Painted Tail (Alan Swinbank) rallied for fourth over a bare mile at Doncaster last weekend, largely under her own steam and promising better over farther.
Where the money's going
Maybe is in continued demand with Paddy Power for the Qipco 1,000 Guineas on Sunday, now 11-8 from 13-8, while Betfred laid the supplemented Moonstone Magic from 8-1 to 7s.
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