Delegator has the chance to cap Godolphin's recent resurgence by winning the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot today. The team of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, the Vice President of the UAE and the Ruler of Dubai, have done little wrong in the last couple of months and Delegator sparkled on his first run since leaving Brian Meehan when he won recently at Goodwood.
"He won nicely at Goodwood and he worked really well last weekend," said Godolphin trainer Saeed bin Suroor. "It's hard to say if he has improved, but he's in really good form and ready to go. "It will be a tough race, but he has the class and it would be great to win a Group One with him in England before he goes to America." Simon Crisford, the racing manager at Godolphin, is also confident, but is wary of the threat Alqaam and Rip van Winkle will pose.
"He's in good form," said Crisford "It's a difficult race and packed with class, but he certainly deserves to be there and it's going to be a real test of his mettle." While the main danger is likely to be Rip van Winkle, Crisford is not ruling out any runner. "Rip van Winkle is a threat, but it's not a two-horse race by any stretch," he said. "They could come from anywhere in the field, it's going to be a real run race and you can get very interesting results."
Aqlaam, the Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid-owned colt, is the only four-year-old taking on the Classic generation, but he did miss the second half of last season through injury. He has made up for lost time this term and landed the Group One Prix du Moulin on his latest start. "I'm really looking forward to it. He's a lovely horse and he has steadily improved and improved," said the jockey Richard Hills, who has won the race twice on Maroof and Summoner.
"He won the Group One last time and he's stepping up again. There are some very good horses in the race, but he's been getting better and better. "He's very tough and he's got a big heart. He'd run through a brick wall if you asked him. "All credit to him because of all the injuries he's had a lot of these horses don't recover from it but he has. "I'm looking forward to trying to get another Group One and I think he'll be a good stallion one day.
"I've won this race twice before and I've definitely got a good chance of making it three." Johnny Murtagh believes Rip Van Winkle can give him a belated first success in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. The Irish jockey has gone close in this mile feature on several occasions, including 12 months ago when he was second to Raven's Pass on Henrythenavigator, but is confident of a big run from the Sussex Stakes winner.
"I've not won the race, but I've been unlucky a few times," he said. "I was second on Ridgewood Pearl and second on Henrythenavigator, but I'm hoping tomorrow I'm going to win it. I think tomorrow will be my first one," said Murtagh. "I've always loved this horse. I sat on him the other morning, he's in good shape and the ground will be perfect. It was a great performance at Goodwood the last day and he's done well since. It looks a straightforward race. There's only a few runners and everybody knows what the others are going to do.
"They are the best around. My horse is the favourite and the bookies don't usually get it wrong." * With agencies