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Horse Racing: HEADING FOR THE TOP - OR NOT?

WIN the National Stakes, and the chances are you're heading for the top - but there have been few stars among the vanquished. Mark Blackman looks back at the last ten runnings.

2005 1st GEORGE WASHINGTON

2nd Golden Arrow, 3rd Heatseeker

Landed the 2,000 Guineas in devastating style, but has since been beaten twice. His six National Stakes victims have since managed only three minor wins between them.

2004 1st DUBAWI

2nd Berenson, 3rd Russian Blue

Godolphin's sole National Stakes winner scored twice more at Group 1 level, winning the Irish 2,000 Guineas, and landing an impressive victory in the Marois at Deauville. He finished third to Motivator in the Derby in between. Best of his National victims was Democratic Deficit, who landed the Craven Stakes the following spring.

2003 1st ONE COOL CAT

2nd Wathab, 3rd Pearl Of Love

Beat only one home in the 2,000 Guineas, and gained his sole subsequent win from The Kiddykid in a Group 3 sprint at the Curragh. Third-placed Pearl Of Love won a Group 1 in Italy next time, while fifth-placed Simple Exchange won the Grade 2 American Derby for Dermot Weld as a three-year-old.

2002 1st REFUSE TO BEND

2nd Van Nistelrooy, 3rd Dublin

Claimed 2,000 Guineas glory the following May. A bitter disappointment in the Derby, it was as a four-year-old that he reached his peak, winning the Queen Anne and the Eclipse. His six National rivals, meanwhile, achieved nothing of merit.

2001 1st HAWK WING

2nd Naheef, 3rd Sholokhov

The first of three Group 1 wins for Hawk Wing. Unlucky behind Rock Of Gibraltar in the Guineas, and second to another stablemate in High Chaparral in the Derby, he got back to winning ways in the Eclipse, but will be best remembered for his victory as a four-year-old in the Lockinge. Runner-up Naheef was subsequently a multiple Group 3/Listed winner, while among the National Stakes also-rans was dual Ayr Gold Cup winner Funfair Wane.

2000 1st BECKETT

2nd King's County, 3rd March King

A poor renewal. The winner proved no better than Listed class, and the beaten horses went on to ply their trade in handicaps and over hurdles.

1999 1st SINNDAR

2nd Murawwi, 3rd Jammaal

The top-class winner went on to land the Derby, Irish Derby and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, and was beaten only once in his life. Best of the rest were multiple Listed winner Jammaal and fifth-placed Bernstein, who won a Group 3.

1998 1st MUS-IF

2nd Coliseum, 3rd Festival Hall

A forgettable renewal, save for the presence in fourth of Mark Johnston's subsequent dual Ascot Gold Cup hero Royal Rebel.

1997 1st KING OF KINGS

2nd Celtic Cavalier, 3rd Mountain Song

Won the 2,000 Guineas on his next start eight months later, but was plum last in the Derby next time and never saw a racecourse again.

1996 1st DESERT KING

2nd Referendum, 3rd Azra

Landed the Irish 2,000 Guineas-Irish Derby double. Fifth-home Verglas was runner-up to Desert King in the Irish Guineas, but the rest proved very disappointing.
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Title Annotation:Sports
Publication:The Racing Post (London, England)
Date:Sep 17, 2006
Words:512
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