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Alborada win sweet for Prescott; Champion Stakes.

SIR MARK PRESCOTT conjured up one of the finest training performances of recent years at Newmarket on Saturday when the George Duffield-ridden Alborada landed a thrilling victory in the Dubai Champion Stakes for the second consecutive year, writes Tom Goff.

Having had only one previous run this season (when below par in the Nassau Stakes 77 days before) because of a series of irritating injuries, the filly vindicated owner Kirsten Rausing's decision to keep the home-bred in training by gaining a tenacious triumph over 7-2 favourite Shiva.

Alborada became the first horse since Triptych (1986-87) to win two renewals of this Group 1 event. She also emulated that French filly by winning one of them on the Rowley Mile and the other on the July Course.

In a race which was run at a moderate pace until Kabool went on to ensure a stronger gallop, Duffield, 53 next month, had his filly perfectly positioned just off the lead.

When battle commenced two furlongs out it was Alborada, sent off at 5-1, who was best placed to capitalise. As they came out of the Dip, she had already got the better of Kabool, before Shiva, under Richard Quinn, appeared up the centre of the track, rapidly making ground.

Henry Cecil had said beforehand that Shiva needed an extra week, and so it proved. With 100 yards to go her challenge faltered, and Prescott's grey battled up the hill to win by a length and a quarter from Shiva.

Kabool was a fine third and Gold Academy fourth.

After Alborada and her connections had received an enthusiastic welcome from the crowd, Prescott admitted that he had considered retiring the filly three weeks ago after she had worked badly.

"It has to be one of the most enjoyable days of my life," confessed the master of Heath House. "A lot of training is done for you by the horses and you don't put a lot in. Last year it was very straightforward and I couldn't claim any credit.

"But this year it means a tremendous amount, because she's had all sorts of little hic-cups along the way. The relief is palpable. After she worked so badly we thought of retiring her. But then she just suddenly started to go.

"I thought she could win on her work, but I didn't believe it could happen. It's a great moment and I'm lucky to be associated with her.

"The race went exactly as we foretold and George had her just in the right place. It was a great riding performance.

''We think she might run again because she's only just come right. She's in the Matriarch Stakes at Hollywood Park and the Queen Elizabeth II Cup in Japan, but the Premio Roma could be the favourite."

An elated Duffield said: "Last year's race was better than this and she didn't need to improve to win it. When I rode her work in her last serious piece, I thought she was back to her best. She's an absolute superstar and this is a bonus for me at my age."

Rausing reflected on her good fortune, saying: "I'm very lucky to have a filly like Alborada, who I bred myself with my friend Sonia Rogers.

"But there must be a masochistic streak in both myself and Sir Mark to put ourselves through it all. She's a filly for the history books; a great filly who will always be remembered in Newmarket."

Cecil was delighted with Shiva's gallant effort in defeat, and hinted he has plenty to look forward to with the Niarchos family's filly.

He said: "You've got to hand it to Alborada, but ours ran fantastically well as she really needed two more gallops. She ran a hell of a race considering she got badly jarred up at Ascot. She didn't canter for two months.

"It's up to Maria [Niarchos] but I would recommend running her once more, maybe in the Premio Roma, and keeping her in training next year.

''If we're careful - she has had knee problems all her life - she should do well next year, as she's just getting her strength."
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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Goff, Tom
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Oct 18, 1999
Words:687
Previous Article:Packed course measures up to big occasion.
Next Article:1999 Ten to Follow - RESULT.


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