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'If racing is like the Grand Prix circuit, we are into Ferrari buying cars from McLaren rather than busting every gut to strengthen their own' FROMT HEVAULTS VINTAGERA CINGP OST WRITING.

GODOLPHIN are great. The Eclipse 1-2-3 is arguably their greatest trick. But when does great move on to greed? At Sandown, there were two emotions. Wonder at the seemingly ever-developing excellence of the Godolphin training operation. But there was disappointment that this so-laudable success was bought as well as trained. Daylami and Central Park were not switched, like Faithful Son, from other Maktoum trainers but were expensive buys from the Aga Khan and Fahd Salman respectively.

Brilliantly though Daylami and Central Park may have been handled, with both having gained Group 1 wins this year, the fact remains that Daylami was the Aga's best three-year-old and Central Park was Salman's best juvenile last year.

It's all very well talking about a free market, but this is getting ridiculous. If top-flight Flat racing is like the Grand Prix circuit, we are into Ferrari buying cars from Williams and McLaren rather than busting every gut to strengthen their own.

There are absolutely no accusations of bad sportsmanship. How more sporting can you get than running your three top 1m2f horses against each other in the Eclipse? But, quite apart from making a nonsense of the Gimcrack speech, runaway acquisitiveness lessens competition at the highest level and actually diminishes the astonishing achievements of Godolphin.

When the operation was set up five years ago, the Godolphin strategy appeared to be clear. It was to cherry-pick the best of the Maktoum horses and put them through the Dubai winter/ Newmarket summer routine that has quickly made Godolphin the greatest Flat-race talking point of the 1990s. Sure, there was Balanchine, bought from Robert Sangster, but the bulk of the team consisted of such as Mark Of Esteem, Lammtarra, Halling, Swain and Classic Cliche, who were moved on from their original trainers to this ultimate intercontinental equine training camp.

So much was made of the advantages of the winter sun that not enough credit was given to the quality of the care back in Newmarket. Indeed, an examination of the Guineas results suggests the supposed 'sunshine extra' is a bit of a myth. How else did Las Meninas inch out Balanchine in 1994 despite enduring the wettest Tipperary winter in years? How come Bijou D'Inde came within a whisker of beating Mark Of Esteem in 1996, despite spending his Christmas and New Year on the frozen moors of Middleham? No, the brilliance of Balanchine and Mark Of Esteem came through when they were trained in Britain, not in Dubai. At Moulton Paddocks, the Godolphin team set a standard of horse care, not to mention a ratio of grooms to horses, that is little short of magnificent. To be around Saeed Bin Suroor, Simon Crisford, Tommy Albertrani, 'Doc' Hauser, and Sheikh Mohammed himself, is to know this is the pursuit of excellence at its very best.

Some five years ago Martin Pipe combined with Richard Pitman to write a terrific book about his training system. Formerly traditional jumping folk suddenly had this new opus by their bedsides. It would be a real service to the game - as well as the Pitman bank balance - if Richard could get the Godolphin call. Crisford likes to talk about "keeping an edge"; why not let the story out? For make no mistake, it is some achievement. Racehorse training, at its grossest simplification, consists of two abilities - t o find a horse with talent, and to avoid messing it up. A good trainer can never make a good horse go faster, but a bad trainer will sooner or later slow it down. The most backhanded compliment you can pay Godolphin is to say it seems to have slowed down precious few.

SO SANDOWN was yet another day of tribute, and one typically when the big event was not the only story. Every stable likes to hit the target with its first two-year-old runner. Only Godolphin could wait until July 4 before firing their first shot and then send it so unerringly home, with Aljabr on Saturday.

Aljabr was everything we have come to expect from the stable. He was calm, fit, ready. What has been achieved so far has made Godolphin the punter's best friend in ages. But the sport has to be about competition for us to sell it as a public interest rather than some private monopoly game.

Sheikh Mohammed was leading owner for the first time in 1985 and has been ever since except for one interruption by Sheikh Hamdan and one by Godolphin. Each year he must have more bred-in-the-purple foals than anyone else in history. Surely it would be more interesting, more fun, to develop them than to rush off and buy what emerges elsewhere.

Some plead that last year's 'poor' Godolphin performance needed transfer money spent to return them to the top. But since when have 41 winners and pounds 1.1 million in British prize-money constituted the word 'poor'? And why not develop what you already have? If that's good enough for Wildenstein, Weinstock, Abdullah, the Aga and our own dear gracious Queen, why not stop with what you have? Godolphin are great, but let's have training alone decide.

Brough Scott looksata Godolphin 1-2-3int he Eclipse Firstp ublished intheR acing Post July6,1 998
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Jul 8, 2012
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