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banner Friday, 15 June, 2001, 22:54 GMT 23:54 UK
Royal blue is the colour
Dettori rides Fantastic Light to victory in Hong Kong
Dettori rides Fantastic Light to victory in Hong Kong
By Richard Griffiths

There is no need to worry about which will be the dominant colour at Royal Ascot this year. It will be Royal Blue. The colours of Godolphin.

It is hard to think of a non-handicap race at Ascot in which the Dubai-based operation will not have a leading contender, such is its unrivalled strength in depth.

So strong, that it's hard to know where to start.

Fantastic Light, crowned World Champion racehorse last year for his consistency in a number of top races around the globe, has the least enviable task of the meeting.

Saeed bin Suroor is a former Dubai policeman
Saeed bin Suroor is a former Dubai policeman
He is faced with trying to match Dubai Millennium's phenomenal victory last year in Wednesday's Prince Of Wales' Stakes.

"This year Fantastic Light has done really well, and has been working really well," says his trainer Saeed bin Suroor.

"He's in good shape for the race, he's a tough horse, and I think he must have a very good chance, even though it will be a very difficult race to win."

Godolphin also have a major chance with Mutafaweq in the Hardwicke Stakes on Friday and with Marienbard in Thursday's highlight, the Ascot Gold Cup.

Be warned, however, that there are one or two doubts in the Godolphin camp about Marienbard's ability to stay the maximum two-and-a-half mile trip.

Earlier in the year, I thought he (West Order) would be one of our stars
  Saeed bin Suroor
"It is a new distance for him," says bin Suroor.

A Godolphin 'dark horse' to watch is West Order, who goes for the Jersey Stakes having recovered from an early season setback.

"Earlier in the year, I thought he would be one of our stars," the trainer adds.

Perhaps most interest in Godolphin's formidable Ascot hand will centre on the two-year-olds.

The return to Newmarket of Godolphin's juvenile trainer David Loder, or "youth team coach" as he is often described, has seen an impressive 10 winners from 13 runners (up to June 14) so far this season.

Loder had spent the previous two Flat seasons in France, where Godolphin had adapted the former Evry racecourse on the outskirts of Paris as a training centre for its youngsters.

David Loder looks after Godolphin's two-year-olds
David Loder looks after Godolphin's two-year-olds
The experiment did not work and Loder admits he is glad to be back in the familiar surroundings of Newmarket, his original base as a trainer.

It will be a major surprise if Loder does not capture at least one of Royal Ascot's two-year-old prizes.

Meshaheer in the Coventry Stakes is likely to be his leading contender, following an impressive debut win at Doncaster last month.

Loder describes Meshaheer as a "really promising horse", who has been working well recently on the Newmarket gallops.

"He ran very well at Doncaster, although I'm not sure how good the opposition was. He has improved since then and I think he will keep improving as the season goes on."

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