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Duty Free: Mendip in focus
by Geir Stabell / Globeform
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Saeed bin Suroor has switched his four-year-old Mendip to the Dubai Duty Free (G1).

Stable companion Poet's Voice takes his place in the Dubai World Cup (G1) field. Mendip won the Al Maktoum Challenge Round I (G3) in January and followed up in the Burj Nahaar (G3) on Super Thursday – both over 1600 metres.

The son of Harlan's Holiday had been one of the best in his classic generation in Dubai last year, and he was sent away as a strong favourite to beat 13 rivals on his seasonal debut. He put a slow start behind him in a matter of strides and was soon seen travelling really well just behind the leaders.

When Dettori asked him to go for glory in the home straight, Mendip's response was immediate and most positive. He quickened right away to win the race easily by 2 ¼ lengths from the old warrior Imbongi, who stayed on from the pack to take second ahead of Win For Sure (a handicap winner next time out).

This was Mendip's best form to date and it was a performance suggesting that he is a top class runner in the making. He had to work harder for his win in the Burj Nahaar, where the 1600 metres trip actually seemed a bit sharp for him. He was a strong favourite but just got up close home, to beat Zafeen Speed by a neck. As De Trebol was half a length further back in third, with Snaafy fourth. “For some reason, he did not take me there as easily as last time”, Frankie Dettori commented after the race.

Mendip has suffered just one defeat in his six starts, when third behind Musir and Raihana in last year's UAE Derby (G2). Mendip previously won the Al Bastakiya (LR) by over six lengths and performed better in that race than in the Derby. Earlier results had indicated that there would not be much between him and Musir, but the latter beat Mendip by 3 lengths on the big day. That might not be a true reflection on how these two colts match up.

Bought for $375,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Breeze Up Sales by John Ferguson, Mendip comes from a US family that has produced classy runners at up to a mile but he seems to get stamina from his sire, Harlan's Holiday, who captured the Florida Derby (G1), Blue Grass Stakes (G1) and Donn Handicap (G1), all over 9 furlongs, before running second to Moon Ballad in the 2003 Dubai World Cup (G1).

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Last update: 2011-03-19 05:19:37 (First published: 2011-02-22 09:49:50 )

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