Dubawi offspring proves bargain of the season
There was no need to offer free entry at Newmarket yesterday, as 20,000 people made their way to the Heath for the 2000 Guineas, but while many of the punters must have left with the beginnings of a tan, most punters will have had precious little to show for their afternoon on the Rowley Mile.
Makfi, a 33/1 chance trained in France by Mikel Dezangles, took the first Classic of the season, beating horses at 16/1 and 12/1, while even-money favourite St Nicholas Abbey was only sixth.
The backers' sense of loss as they left the track yesterday evening will have been shared by Marcus Tregoning, who had Makfi in his Lambourn stable last season, and by Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum, his breeder and former owner.
The colt, a son of Dubawi, an Irish 2000 Guineas winner, was unraced when he was sent to the sales last October, where Dezangles picked him up for just 26,000gns.
He is worth many times that now, and with just three races to his name, Makfi must also have excellent prospects of adding to this first Group One success, perhaps in the St James's Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot next month.
St Nicholas Abbey's value as a future stallion, though, is heading in the opposite direction. Three furlongs out, Johnny Murtagh asked him to improve but he was soon in trouble. He could not make any ground on Dick Turpin, the leader, who briefly threatened to power away from the field, but as his run expired, Makfi stayed on best for Christophe Lemaire to win by one and a quarter lengths.
Makfi is a miler on pedigree and style, while St Nicholas Abbey is bred to be suited by middle distances, but this was a long way from the traditional "fourth in the Guineas, first in the Derby" performance of a horse with serious prospects in the Classic. He is out to 4/1 for Epsom with Ladbrokes and Paddy Power, a price that makes no appeal at all.
Someone in Sheikh Hamdan's vast bloodstock operation will have been feeling rather queasy last night, as Classic winners are much too rare a commodity to be sent off to the sales. There is an early opportunity to claw back some lost ground at Newmarket this afternoon, though, when Tregoning will saddle Rumoush (nap 3.20), the winner of the Fielden Stakes, in the 1000 Guineas.
Special Duty, the French-trained favourite, will surely attract plenty of money from across the English Channel, but she was beaten in her prep race and Rumoush is a big price to beat her.