STRUGGLING stable hit by retirement of Guineas runner-up Muwakleh

Tuesday, May 8th 2001, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

(LONDON) - Godolphin racing has taken another blow with the forced retirement of Muwakleh, runner-up in Sunday's 1,000 Guineas.

Muwakleh suffered a slab fracture of her right knee in the closing stages of Sunday's race. The three-year-old filly was caught in the closing strides by Ameerat at Newmarket.

Muwakleh's second place finish had appeared to signal an upturn in the fortunes of Sheikh Mohammed's team after recent disappointments.

They include the death of last year's Dubai World Cup winner Dubai Millennium on April 30, an injury to Street Cry and the poor performance of Godolphin's three colts in Saturday's 2,000 Guineas.

Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford said the injury was discovered after the race on Sunday night.

``She was obviously lame. We ran the necessary tests and the injury was diagnosed,'' Crisford said.

``It's a huge blow to us as we had ambitious plans for her. Potentially she was going to be one of the goalscorers of the season and it is a bitter pill to swallow.''

Muwakleh, whose name means 'going with the blessing of God', will join Sheikh Mohammed's broodmares at Shadwell Stud in Norfolk, east England.

The 1,000 Guineas was Muwakleh's first race on turf and her third run overall. She had been a 6/1 shot for the Oaks.

Andy Clifton, spokesman for bookmakers Ladbrokes, said Godolphin's poor start would not necessarily ruin its season.

``Their horses only arrived back from Dubai about a week ago, so they've only had a handful of runners,'' Clifton said.

``Part of the enigma of Godolphin is that sometimes quite a lot of their best horses haven't even raced in this country.''

Clifton said it was too early in the season to write off the team.

``There are no obvious superstars in the Godolphin ranks this year, but it wouldn't surprise me if in two or three months time, they're picking up big races regularly,'' he said.

Godolphin's two failures in the United Arab Emirates Derby at the Nad Al Sheba course in March, Celtic Silence and Atlantis Prince, will race Saturday in the English Derby trial at Lingfield.

Clifton said the track was a good preparation for the premier classic at Epsom on June 8.

``The track and the distance are very similar to the conditions they'll get at Epsom,'' he said.

``You need to have a pretty well balanced horse (for Epsom), one that can handle tight bends quite well and Lingfield is the perfect test for that.''