Daylami takes his form to another level with vintage performance
In the fourth of a six-part series building up to the King George, we focus on the best performances in the Ascot midsummer showpiece on Racing Post Ratings. Graham Dench continues with Daylami, who recorded a figure of 134 in 1999
If expectations were relatively restrained in the build up to the 1999 King George, that served only to enhance racegoers' delight at a truly vintage performance.
Daylami had already proved himself one of Godolphin's more inspired acquisitions with wins in the Coral-Eclipse, the Man O'War and most recently the Coronation Cup since he was purchased from the Aga Khan, yet his wins for Saeed Bin Suroor were outweighed by his defeats.
In a King George run on fast ground in glorious sunshine he was second favourite behind the Derby winner Oath in a field that was missing star three-year-olds Montjeu and Ramruma but included the Derby runner-up Daliapour and St Leger winners Silver Patriarch and Nedawi, as well as Hardwicke winner Fruits Of Love.
Frankie Dettori immediately had Daylami handily placed on the inner as first Daliapour and then Nedawi cut out the running, and he took him towards the outer for his effort straightening for home.
It looked for a moment as if Oath might be the one to peg Nedawi back, but his effort proved short lived and the eye was immediately drawn to the grey making giant strides on the wide outside. Daylami hit the front with well over a furlong to go and turned the race into a procession, storming away majestically to score by five lengths from Nedawi.
While it transpired that both Oath and Daliapour suffered injuries, this was a magnificent performance. It took Daylami to a whole new level, and yet the best was still to come. A nine-length win in the Irish Champion Stakes and a comfortable defeat of Royal Anthem in the Breeders' Cup Turf were rated higher still.
Unsurprisingly, Daylami is right up among Godolphin's very best in Saeed Bin Suroor's affections.
He says: "I remember Daylami was flying at home before the King George. Ten days or so before the race he did a brilliant piece of work, and all the signs were good going into the race. I knew when he moved up on the turn that he was going to win, and he came right away from them in the last furlong.
"Horses like Daylami, Dubai Millennium and Fantastic Light are very hard to find, and he was one of my favourites. Daylami was Emirates World Champion that year, and Godolphin's first winner at the Breeders' Cup. He was top class at a mile and quarter and a mile and a half, and a very special horse."
Dettori adds: "He absolutely sluiced in. The horse was in tremendous form that year. They built it up to be a bit of a match race with Oath.
"He was a push button ride, I didn't have to do much to get in the clear. He won by five lengths and it was the easiest of my King George winners."
Racing Post handicapper Sam Walker says . . .
Daylami was crowned champion of Europe after a stellar season in 1999 and this was the race where the shimmering grey first highlighted that supreme ability. An easy five-length win over St Leger winner Nedawi saw his peak RPR go up 8lb to 134.
The five-year-old improved again on his next start to win the Irish Champion Stakes by nine lengths, for an RPR of 138, before closing out his career with success in the Breeders' Cup Turf. He was the last horse older than four to win the King George.
If you liked this, read about more King George greats: