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Thursday, March 23, 2006

WACHMAN TARGETS EL FUEGO AT STAN JAMES 2000 GUINEAS - Unicorn Asset Management to sponsor Craven Stakes

Irish handler David Wachman has confirmed that El Fuego is in top shape and on course to contest the Stan James 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on Saturday, May 6.

The Fusaichi Pegasus colt won his only start in a Fairyhouse maiden last August, when a well-backed favourite for Kieren Fallon, and is currently quoted a 40/1 chance by the sponsor for the big race.

Wachman revealed this morning: "I'm very happy with El Fuego - he's wintered well. The plan at present is to go for the Stan James 2000 Guineas but I'll have to speak to the owners (Derrick Smith, Sue Magnier and Michael Tabor) and see what they want to do closer to the race.

"He wants good ground so that would be all important in deciding whether or not he has a prep race first. I wouldn't mind going straight to Newmarket but the ground is the key - if it's good he'll get a run first, if not then he won't," the trainer explained.

"We have a better chance of getting decent ground in England, so that would be more realistic - something like the Unicorn Asset Management Craven Stakes or the Greenham could be on the agenda, but we'll see."

El Fuego would be Wachman's first ever runner in the Stan James 2000 Guineas, although the trainer is no stranger to success on these shores, having already landed big prizes in the past few years with Indesatchel, Fracas and Damson.

"Indesatchel did well for us last year and won the Greenham - at this stage I would say that El Fuego compares favourably with Indesatchel," Wachman commented.

"He has very little experience, having only had one run, and I'm not sure about the form, but time will tell how good he is."

Unicorn Asset Management are the new sponsors of the feature race at the Craven Meeting, Newmarket's first fixture of the new season on the NatWest Rowley Mile, which runs for three days starting on Tuesday, April 18.

The £50,000 Unicorn Asset Management Craven Stakes (Group 3), on Thursday April 20, is one of the key trials for the Stan James 2000 Guineas, which takes place over the same course and distance two and a half weeks later.

Both races were won two years ago by the Barry Hills-trained Haafhd. Unicorn, who began their racing sponsorship at Lingfield, will also be supporting six of the seven races at the NatWest Rowley Mile on Friday, May 26, and entertaining many key clients at the 'Course of Champions' on both days.

Newmarket's Managing Director, Lisa Hancock, said today: "We are delighted to welcome Unicorn Asset Management to the NatWest Rowley Mile, yet another new sponsor that we have attracted here in recent years.

"The Unicorn Asset Management Craven Stakes is an historic classic trial, first run in 1878, and we hope to attract some of the leading Stan James 2000 Guineas contenders for it this year."

Peter Webb, Chief Executive of Unicorn, commented: "Unicorn are delighted to be supporting Newmarket Racecourses, the home of racing in the UK. Our sponsorship of these two meetings complements our support of The National Stud.

"We are delighted to be contributing to a sport which gives so much enjoyment and pleasure to so many people."


Dubai Millennium, the greatest horse to race for Godolphin, is remembered by a new life-size portrait which was unveiled on Thursday morning (March 23) by H. E. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum at the Godolphin Gallery, Nad Al Sheba, Dubai.

The statue, commissioned by Dubai International Capital and modelled by Madame Tussauds in London, is a gift to His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Godolphin's founder and driving force.

It recreates the moment when Dubai Millennium, with Frankie Dettori in the saddle, passed the winning post for his greatest victory in the Dubai World Cup at Nad Al Sheba in 2000.

He put up a devastating performance, leading all the way to win in a record time of 1m 59.50s which still stands for the 10 furlongs on dirt at the Dubai course.

Dubai Millennium had won nine of his 10 starts when injury ended his racing days in August, 2000. Tragically he died from grass sickness on April 29, 2001, during his first season as a stallion at Sheikh Mohammed's Dalham Hall Stud in Newmarket, England.

Hundreds of people attended the unveiling at the Godolphin Gallery, which is open to visitors from 9am to 5pm seven days a week and up to 8pm on racedays.

Simon Crisford, Godolphin's racing manager, commented: "This tremendous portrait is an invaluable addition to the Gallery and represents everything that Godolphin stands for."

Saeed bin Suroor, who trained Dubai Millennium, is delighted with the tribute to the horse he remembers so well.

He said: "It is great, looking like the real Dubai Millennium, and will help preserve the memory of this tremendous horse forever."

Frankie Dettori, Godolphin's main retained jockey, had to pose for five hours in his crouched riding position for the modellers from Madame Tussauds.

"I normally crouch for a couple of minutes in a race so it was quite taxing. The horse was very special and I was part of the Dubai Millennium fairytale. So to have something like this in the Godolphin museum is very good."

He donated the saddle, boots and silks which are part of the unique artwork.

Johanna Swann, curator of the Godolphin Gallery, added: "The morning was a great success and we are very pleased to help Dubai International Capital and Madame Tussauds by providing the location to display this outstanding representation of Godolphin's greatest horse."

The project involved 30 people, including seven sculptors, five moulders, six finishing artists, four engineers, a prop maker and wardrobe artist, from Madame Tussauds and took three months to complete.

The creative team was led by Simon Hart, the project manager, and Jim Kempton, the principal sculptor, who jumped at the chance to record such a definitive moment in sport. It was the first time they had modelled a horse and jockey.

Madame Tussauds has been creating wax portraits for over 200 hundred years and modelled all manner of subjects from the Queen of England to David Beckham, from Sir Winston Churchill to Britney Spears.

Dubai International Capital acquired the Tussauds Group in May, 2005.

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