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Gill looking for more Mujahid magic.

STEVE GILL, who looks after Mujahid for John Dunlop, is as mystified as his employer about the Danzig colt's poor performance in the Craven Stakes at Newmarket two weeks ago.

But the disappointing display by last year's champion two-year-old failed to hurt Gill as much as the 'Muja-didn't' jibes forthcoming in the press at the end of last week. After that slur, the Arundel team is determined that Sunday's headlines will scream 'Muja-did!'

"We were gobsmacked after Newmarket," says Gill, who joined Dunlop 18 months ago. "We couldn't find anything wrong with him and everyone was gutted. The guv'nor said that, after 33 years of training, he had never been so surprised by a result. When we were talking about it afterwards, you could hear the disappointment in his voice. It was a bad day at the office."

Mujahid's shock defeat was all the more bizarre because Hamdan Al Maktoum's colt had been working brilliantly. But Gill, 28, feels that the colt cannot be labelled a 'twicer' on the basis of one outing at three.

"He's only run five times in his life," he says. "You can't judge a horse on that alone. Also, if the horse had been given a slap by Richard [Hills] a furlong out and put his ears back, then you could understand people questioning his commitment. But the horse was beaten over three furlongs out."

Gill is a well-travelled man within racing. He started his career with Maurice Camacho 12 years ago, and spent time with Malcolm Jefferson and Jimmy FitzGerald before joining Kim Bailey.

After Bailey, he went to Paul Cole and then to Lady Herries' yard before moving to Arundel. He had been with Dunlop for only a few months before he was offered Mujahid to look after.

"He was a natural from the word go. His only bad run last year was at York when everything went against him. He got bumped twice, jumped the road and came back jarred up.

"Last year's Dewhurst was billed as a three-horse race between Enrique, Stravinsky and Lujain. But we knew different, although we were frightened of Enrique because of his previous run. But our horse won fair and square and you can't make excuses for all of the others that day.

"All I can say is that he's done great over the winter, although he's filled out more than actually grown. He has the build of a sprinter with a thick neck and strong quarters. He looks fantastic which, again, makes his last Newmarket run so strange."

Tomorrow's big race will be the first time Gill has ever led a horse up in a Classic. It will be a special day which, he feels, could go according to plan, if one ignores Mujahid's last run.

"He's in brilliant form and is working superbly. I'm very hopeful. The adrenalin will be flowing and it will be a proud moment for me, my fiancee Sarah and my parents.

"But I'd love the horse to win for the boss. Mr Dunlop has never won the race before. He's not just a great trainer, he's a great man as well. I had a few problems before I came to work for him and he's more like a father figure to me. Everyone at Arundel is treated like a human being and we all want the horse to win for the boss."
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Title Annotation:Sports
Author:Goff, Tom
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Apr 30, 1999
Words:563
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