Johannesburg reigns supreme


Johannesburg maintained his unbeaten record and confirmed his position at the head of the betting for the Sagitta 2,000 Guineas with a stylish victory in the Prix Morny at Deauville yesterday.

Just a fortnight after his Phoenix Stakes stroll at Leopardstown, win number five came at the expense of the French-trained Zipping, beaten one and a half lengths by Aidan O'Brien's odds-on shot with the David Loder's Meshaheer the same distance back in third.

The six-furlong Group One was run at a good gallop and Michael Kinane tracked the leaders on Johannesburg before unleashing the son of Hennessy at the furlong pole.

Getting an immediate response, the Ballydoyle runner came readily clear of his rivals.

Johannesburg's success on good to soft ground came despite losing a shoe in the race. The Robert Collet-trained Zipping put up a creditable performance to run so close, considering that he missed the break and he could face a rematch with the winner in the Middle Park Stakes at Newmarket on October 4th.

However, O'Brien is also considering the Dewhurst Stakes as well the Breeders' Cup juvenile for the Michael Tabor-owned Johannesburg: "I was not at all worried about running so close after his last race as he had an easy time in the Phoenix Stakes.

"We were very pleased with today and he will now rest before his next outing." It proved a rewarding weekend for O'Brien who the previous day at the Curragh landed the Group Two Futurity Stakes with Hawk King, earning a 16 to 1 quote from the Tote for the Sagitta 2,000 Guineas.

And the 7 to 4 favourite was also giving a boost to his stablemate, the Gimcrack winner, Rock Of Gibraltar who had beaten him over this course on his previous start. "Michael was very impressed - he couldn't believe how easily Hawk Wing picked them off," said O'Brien, who revealed the winner will next run in the National Stakes in three weeks time.