05/08/2003 11:00PM

Dalakhani looks tough - if he goes


Dalakhani and Super Celebre are scheduled to meet the leading French Derby candidates of Aidan O'Brien and Saeed bin Suroor in an outstanding renewal of the Group 1 Prix Lupin at Longchamp on Sunday.

But the undefeated Dalakhani, winner of the Group 2 Prix Greffulhe on April 20, may skip the Lupin if rain does not keep the ground at least good to soft.

Trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre has warned that Dalakhani, a half-brother to Daylami, will go straight to the Prix du Jockey-Club at Chantilly on June 1 if he is not satisfied with the going.

If Dalakhani does run in the 1 5/16-mile Lupin, he will have his hands full with Super Celebre. An Elie Lellouche-trained son of Peintre Celebre, Super Celebre took the Group 2 Prix Noailles on April 6 from Coroner, who won Thursday's Group 2 Prix Hocquart. If Dalakhani bypasses the Lupin, Super Celebre may have an edge on Alberto Giacometti, Balestrini and New South Wales.

The winner of the 1 1/4-mile Criterium de Saint-Cloud last fall, the O'Brien-trained Alberto Giacometti was beaten into third by his 33-1 stablemate Balestrini in the Group 3 Ballysax Stakes on April 13. Balestrini was being employed as a rabbit that day, and will try to take them all the way in the Lupin. As for Alberto Giacometti, there are concerns he is not quite up to the task.

New South Wales is officially undefeated but was an also-ran in one of Godolphin's private one-mile turf trials at Nad Al Sheba on April 3.

The Lupin overshadows the two one-mile classics on the Longchamp Sunday card, the Poule d'Essai des Poulains, or French 2000 Guineas, and the Poule d'Essai des Pouliches, or French 1000 Guineas.

Unbeaten Group 3 Prix de Fontainebleau winner Clodovil and listed Prix Omnium II winner Sign of the Wolf carry France's best hopes in the Poulains. Clodovil, an Andre Fabre-trained son of Danehill, is the choice in a tight fit over six foreign invaders.

O'Brien comes well equipped with his Group 3 Tetrarch Stakes winner France as well as Catcher in the Rye, who is a son of Danehill and E.P. Taylor winner Truly a Dream. Bourbonnais, third in the UAE 2000 Guineas and fifth in the UAE Derby on dirt, will appreciate his return to turf, but Elusive City looked dull when fifth last month in the Greenham Stakes.

The Poule d'Essai des Pouliches is a wide-open 12-runner affair. Crystal Star, a Michael Stoute-trained half-sister to 2001 Pouliches winner Rose Gypsy, rates a slight choice over the first three from the Group 3 Prix de la Grotte: Maiden Tower, Fidelio's Miracle, and Welcome Millenium.

The winner of the last three runnings of Leopardstown's 1 1/4-mile Group 2 Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial - High Chaparral, Galileo and Sinndar - have all gone on to Epsom Derby glory. On Sunday, O'Brien will be hoping that his Racing Post Trophy winner Brian Boru will take to the same path. However, the John Oxx-trained Epsom Derby co-favorite Alamshar beat Brian Boru in the Beresford Stakes last year, and has an edge off his unlucky second to Balestrini in the Ballysax.