Makfi, the horse discarded by Sheikh Hamdan in the autumn, emerged as a shock winner of the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket yesterday. To compound matters for Sheikh Hamdan, his Mark Johnston-trained Awzaan finished 15th, one place behind Godolphin's Buzzword, who was the first runner in a British Classic for Mahmood al Zarooni, their new trainer.
Makfi, the Mikel Delzangles-trained Dubawi colt, who was reared at the Shadwell Stud before being sold for 25,000 guineas, was sent off an outsider on the back of success in the Prix Djebel at Maisons-Laffitte and was settled in the middle of the 19-runner field by Christophe Lemaire. The three-year-old made stealthy headway to take the lead passing the furlong marker and stayed on strongly in the closing stages to beat Dick Turpin by a length and a quarter, with Canford Cliffs half a length away in third.
He scooped a winning prize of £227,080 (Dh1,274m). Aidan O'Brien's hitherto unbeaten horse - tagged the next wonder horse by many - never got in a serious blow and could only finish sixth. Lemaire, who has a great record at Newmarket, said: "I'm very pleased, he won well last time but we were worried about his lack of experience. "Today his condition had improved and he travelled well all the way. When I got the gap he really kicked. He has a very good turn of foot and is a top-class horse.
"I was not worried about the ground today, good horses go on any ground." Delzangles said: "It's amazing. We liked him as he's a son of Dubawi and a good looking horse. We were waiting for the Djebel to see what happened but we already had an idea we might come here. "We weren't really worried about the ground and he's proved he's a very good horse. "Maybe now we'll come back to England for the St James's Palace Stakes. The French Guineas is a possibility but it's only two weeks away and he's only run three times, so maybe we'll come back for Royal Ascot."
Richard Hannon was a proud man having saddled the second and third. He said: "They have both run super races, and you can't really say too much more than that. "Richard [Hughes] said the Dip didn't suit him [Canford Cliffs] but a furlong and a half out I still thought he had won it. "They proved they are two very good horses and I am thrilled with them." Sheikh Hamdan will be hoping for better luck today in the 1,000 Guineas.
Winner of the race six times, he will look to Feilden Stakes winner Rumoush to enhance his record in this year's contest after he withdrew Tabassum and Joanna at the five-day stage on Monday. Habaayib will also wear Sheikh Hamdan's colours. Godolphin, meanwhile, will be represented by Hibaayeb who won the Group One Fillies' Mile at Ascot last season when trained by Clive Brittan. * Agencies