YORK // Simon Crisford, the Godolphin racing manager, yesterday looked to stem the tide of criticism surrounding the high profile transfer of four horses, including leading Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe fancy Cutlass Bay, from Andre Fabre's Chantilly yard to Newmarket. The unbeaten Cutlass Bay - who won the Group One Prix de Ganay at Longchamp earlier this month, along with Simon de Montfort, the French Derby hopeful, Anna Salai, the Irish 1,000 Guineas chance - and Rewilding made the move last weekend to Godolphin's headquarters in England.
Cutlass Bay, the four-year-old who is entered in the Coronation Cup at the Epsom Derby meeting and the Prince Of Wales's Stakes at Royal Ascot next month, will be trained by Saeed bin Suroor, while the trio of three-year-olds will come under the care of the new trainer Mahmood al Zarooni. "It's pretty simple really," Crisford said. "Andre Fabre is employed by Godolphin to produce horses to a certain level of form. When he feels that they have reached the required standard, the horses then come over to us."
Fabre is generally regarded as among the best trainers in the world, having won the French championship a record 21 times. The 64-year-old has also won the Arc seven times as well as the French Derby, which makes the transfer of Cutlass Bay and Simon De Montfort, in particular, so unfathomable for some sections of the racing fraternity. "Look, Godolphin is Saeed bin Suroor and Mahmood al Zarooni," said Crisford. "Andre Fabre is only part of the production line. That is what he is paid to do. He wouldn't have these horses if it wasn't for Godolphin."
In August 2008, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, bought Fabre's training facility in a leaseback deal. Last season several horses were shuttled from France to Britain, most notably Flying Cloud, who won the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot having been in Fabre's care. Crisford's comments come ahead of Flying Cloud's seasonal bow this afternoon, when she clashes with four other rivals including Sariska, last year's dual Oaks heroine, in the Group Two Middleton Stakes at York. Godolphin also line up Chabal in the Dante Stakes, one of the leading trials for the Derby.
Chabal was foaled on the same day that the French rugby player Sebastien Chabal contributed to his side's historic 20-17 Six Nations victory over Ireland at Croke Park in February 2007. But unlike his hirsute namesake, he is not the most physical of specimens, despite running out an impressive winner of the Sandown Classic trial last month. "He's an athletic horse, but I wouldn't say he was robust," Crisford continued.
"He doesn't carry a lot of condition. He had a decent two-year-old campaign and he wintered well over in Dubai. We're very hopeful, but we are sure to find out more after the Dante." However, bin Suroor thinks the horse will cope with the step up in class. "I was pleased with the way Chabal won at Sandown and he came out of that race in very good order," he told www.godolphin.com. "His last piece of work went very well and he is ready to race again.
"He's taking a step up in class now and it looks like it will be a tough race to win. "But he goes there in good form and I am looking to see him run a good race at York. Chabal was bought out of Jim Bolger's yard last season, and Kite Wood, Godolphin's big hope in tomorrow's Group Two Emirates Airline Yorkshire Cup, was another import to the Godolphin fold. Kite Wood was purchased out of Michael Jarvis's stable in 2008 before a 2009 campaign that saw the son of Galileo finish second to Mastery, his stablemate, in the St Leger.
The four-year-old faces seven other rivals including Wajir, another stablemate, but Crisford was wary of Kite Wood's chances. "He will be tested enough over 1m6f on his first start of the season. He generally has to race prominently though because he doesn't have a change of gears. The race should suit him." Yesterday on the Knavesmire Henry Cecil's Aviate put in a sneaky performance to win the Musidora Stakes. Trapped all the way until the final 100 yards, the Khalid Abdullah-owned filly flew at the finish to secure Cecil's ninth win in the Group 3 contest. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org