1. Dubai Millennium (Timeform rating 140)
Dubai Millennium was all the rage in the betting ahead of his debut for David Loder in 1998, and looked something out of the ordinary, readily landing the odds in a Yarmouth maiden.
After switching to Saeed bin Suroor, Dubai Millennium, like the majority of Godolphin’s horses, wintered in Dubai, and won a minor event at Doncaster on his seasonal return in 1999. Dubai Millennium easily followed up in a listed event before proving a major disappointment in the Derby at Epsom (was on his toes in the paddock beforehand). He pulled very hard on his first and only start at a mile and a half and clearly didn’t do himself justice.
However, it didn’t take Dubai Millennium long to confirm his previous promise, winning a Group 2 at Maisons-Laffitte before proving successful in the Prix Jacques le Marois at Deauville and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot. It was at Ascot that Dubai Millennium looked a real top-notcher, tracking the leaders and quickening away powerfully after two furlongs out, Frankie Dettori posing for the cameras as they passed the winning line.
Dubai Millennium warmed up for a tilt at the Dubai World Cup with a routine success in the listed Maktoum Challenge (Round 3), and then went on to break the course record over the same course and distance in the Dubai World Cup, putting up a scintillating performance to win by seven lengths, looking in a different class to his opposition, and recording a Timeform performance rating of 140.
He had been renamed by Sheikh Mohammed before making his debut – originally named Yaazer –with the Dubai World Cup in mind.
Dubai Millennium capped a fine career with an eight-length success in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot, stretching the field from Swinley Bottom, opening up a sizeable advantage, and maintaining it over the remainder in the straight as his market rival came to the end of his tether.
Dubai Millennium, who won nine of his ten starts, fractured his off-hind leg on the gallops in August 2000 and was retired. He stood at Dalham Hall Stud in Newmarket, but was operated on for colic in April 2001, and died the following month from an acute form of grass sickness. Winners from his only crop include Dubawi and Echo of Light.
2. Daylami (Timeform rating 138)
A well-made horse who had a powerful, round action, Daylami started his career with Alain de Royer-Dupre, before switching to Saeed bin Suroor as a four-year-old in the 1998 season. His wins that year included the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh, the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown and the Man O’War Stakes at Belmont.
The following year, Daylami had already won the Coronation Cup at Epsom and the King George VI and Elizabeth Stakes before also proving himself a top-class performer over a mile and a quarter in the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown with an electrifying success. Daylami was always travelling smoothly and quickly pulled clear of his toiling rivals without being strongly ridden.
Daylami’s final victory came in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Gulfstream, arguably his finest hour. In the process, he became the first European-trained winner in Florida in Breeders’ Cup history. Below is an extract from Daylami’s final report.
‘Daylami now retires to stud in Ireland and will be remembered with great affection by racing fans around the world after an exemplary career on the track, during which, in terms of durability, versatility and brilliance, he's become something of a Flat racing version of that even more feted grey of yesteryear, Desert Orchid.’
3. Mark of Esteem (Timeform rating 137)
Mark of Esteem was an outstanding three-year-old miler in 1996. He was trained by Sir Henry Cecil in his juvenile season and ran twice, confirming the favourable impression he made on debut when a ready winner of a maiden at Goodwood.
Mark of Esteem spent that winter in Dubai after switching to Saeed bin Suroor and looked fantastic in the paddock when winning the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on his first start for bin Suroor.
He missed his engagement in the Derby – reportedly due to a high temperature – and was below par in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot on his next start. However, Mark of Esteem went on to defy a Group 1 penalty in the Celebration Mile at Goodwood and followed that clear-cut success with an outstanding performance in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot, showing a magnificent turn of foot to overcome Bosra Sham who was ridden more forcefully and kept on responding for pressure.
Mark of Esteem was disappointing on his final start in the Breeders’ Cup Mile at Woodbine, but there is no doubt his performance at Ascot was one right out of the top drawer.
4. Sakhee (Timeform rating 136)
Sakhee was a top-class three-year-old for John Dunlop, completing a four-timer in the Dante Stakes at York, and going on to finish second in the Derby at Epsom, beaten a length by Sinndar. A strong, good-topped horse who carried condition, he was always going to develop into an even better four-year-old, though.
Sakhee reportedly had some hiccups in training after his final start for John Dunlop, but he made a smooth start for new connections, winning his first three starts, notably the Juddmonte International Stakes at York and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp by wide margins.
Sakhee ran in the Breeders’ Cup Classic at Belmont next, reportedly swerving the Turf as connections stated after his York win he wouldn’t run on firm ground again due to his past injury. He nearly put himself in the record books by adding a top prize on dirt to his Arc success, but was narrowly beaten by Tiznow having been forced a little wide when making his move. Sakhee couldn’t reach those heights in his final season as a five-year-old, winning a minor event at Nad Al Sheba by nine lengths before producing a below-par effort in the Dubai World Cup, and he was then retired when beaten at odds of 5/1-on in a Group 3 at Deauville.
5. Intikhab (Timeform rating 135)
Intikhab was trained by David Morley until the end of the 1997 season, up to which point he had displayed smart form, but he quickly developed into a top-class miler in a short and distinguished career with Saeed bin Suroor.
Intikhab won a minor event over nine furlongs at Nad Al Sheba on his first start the following year, but was stretched by the step up to a mile and a quarter when second in the Dubai Duty Free Stakes on his next start. However, it was when he returned to the turf in Britain that Intikhab really blossomed, producing a high-class performance in the Diomed Stakes at Epsom before putting up a career-defining display in the Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Intikhab took a small field apart in a manner that is rarely seen at the top level, pushed along to lead in the final furlong and storming clear in stunning style, extending his advantage all the way to the line. The timefigure was exceptional, too, confirming him one of the best milers seen for several years.
6. Lammtarra (Timeform rating 134)
Lammtarra was trained by Alex Scott in 1994 and won a listed event at Newbury on debut, producing a useful performance to make a winning start.
Lammtarra was an impeccably-bred colt – by Nijinsky and out of the promoted Oaks winner Snow Bridge – and he progressed out of all recognition in a short three-year-old career for Saeed bin Suroor. He belied inexperience to win the Derby at Epsom on just his second start (after 10 months off), still having plenty to do entering the straight but producing a tremendous turf of foot to flash past the leading trio with less than 100 yards to run.
A slight setback after the Derby ruled him out of the Irish equivalent, but Lammtarra proved himself the best of the three-year-old middle-distance performers when maintaining his unbeaten record in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot. He shaped as though he would be well suited by the St Leger trip, but connections stated in post-race interviews that the Arc would be his next target, and Lammtarra showed further improvement to complete a memorable Derby, King George, Arc treble.
6= Swain (Timeform rating 134)
Trained by Andre Fabre in France during 1995 and 1996, Swain was a high-class performer with notable wins as a four-year-old including the Coronation Cup at Epsom and the Prix Foy at Longchamp.
Swain switched to Saeed bin Suroor and produced a career-best effort to spring a surprise and beat Pilsduski, Helissio and Singspiel in an eagerly-anticipated edition of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot. That was Swain’s only victory from four outings as a five-year-old but he returned at six and enjoyed further top-level success.
He produced a cracking effort when beaten a short-head by Silver Charm in the 1998 Dubai World Cup at Nad Al Sheba on his debut on dirt, a little outpaced over a trip short of his optimum, but staying on strongly to suggest he would be a force once again in all the top European races.
Indeed, Swain went on to win the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot again and the Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown. Swain isn’t remembered as one of the all-time greats, but he was one of the soundest and toughest top-class racehorses of his era.
6= Fantastic Light (Timeform rating 134)
Fantastic Light was a very smart three-year-old for Sir Michael Stoute in 1999, notably winning the Great Voltigeur at York. He switched to Saeed bin Suroor after winning the Dubai Sheema Classic at Nad Al Sheba in early-2000, and improved further throughout that season, winning the Hong Kong Cup at Sha Tin on his final start that year.
It was as a five-year-old that Fantastic Light really blossomed into a top-class performer, finally getting the credit that his tough and consistent career deserved. Fantastic Light won the Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh before putting up a career-best performance in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, running out an impressive scorer and recording a very fast timefigure.
Fantastic Light was beaten only by a three-year-old Galileo on his next start in the King George, but reversed the form with that rival back at a mile and a quarter in the Irish Champion Stakes on his next start, giving Godolphin their third win in the race over four years in a thrilling finish, getting a perfect run through and responding to pressure in typically game fashion, always holding a fractional advantage over his big rival.
Fantastic Light rounded off an excellent career with a win in the Breeders’ Cup Turf at Belmont, conquering another Aidan O’Brien-trained three-year-old in the shape of Milan, not having trouble with the return to a mile and a half around a sharp track. Fantastic Light was a great servant for connections, winning six Group/Grade 1s, and is remembered as a tough, consistent sort with a fine turn of foot.
9. Halling (Timeform rating 133)
Halling was a very progressive three-year-old once entering handicaps for John Gosden in 1994, landing a hefty gamble at Ripon in August and going on to complete a hat-trick in the Cambridgeshire at Newmarket in October, recording an excellent timefigure.
Halling switched to Saeed bin Suroor after and had won three times during a winter in Dubai before proving successful in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown in 1995. Another Group 1 victory in the Juddmonte International at York followed, where he got to the front still virtually on the bridle two furlongs out and producing a pulsating turn of foot, sprinting away in a matter of strides from a high-class field.
Halling was disappointing in both the Breeders’ Cup Classic and Dubai World Cup, but proved at least as good as ever returned to turf when winning a second Coral-Eclipse and Juddmonte International in 1996. Halling won the latter race in stunning fashion, just as he had 12 months earlier, stretching his unbeaten record on turf to eight, and recording a fifth Group 1 in the process. He again wasn't taken on for the lead, and when squeezed along by Dettori over two out he soon began to assert, stretching clear in impressive fashion.