04/18/2003 12:00AM

Dalakhani starts his year


Dalakhani embarks on what his owner, the Aga Khan, hopes will be a glittering 3-year-old campaign on Sunday at Longchamp, where he meets four opponents in the Group 2 Prix Greffulhe.

A half-brother to eight-time Group 1 or Grade 1 winner Daylami, Dalakhani completed a perfect juvenile season with a Group 1 victory in the one-mile Criterium International at Saint-Cloud. The Greffulhe's 1 5/16 miles appear to be an ideal first step on the road to the 1 1/2-mile Prix du Jockey-Club (French Derby) at Chantilly on June 1.

Trainer Alain de Royer-Dupre has named Christophe Soumillon to ride Dalakhani.

If a challenge is to emerge, it will come from either the Andre Fabre-trained Fairly Ransom, who won his third in a row in the listed Prix de Courcelles over the Greffulhe course and distance on March 30, or the Criquette Head-Maarek-trained Jipapibaquigrafo, who was third behind Super Celebre in the Group 2 Prix Noailles two weeks ago.

Also on Sunday's Longchamp card are key Group 3 course and distance preps for the French 1000 and 2000 Guineas, which will be run on May 11.

The one-mile Prix de Fontainebleau for colts has attracted one of Aidan O'Brien's leading classic hopefuls, Tomahawk. A son of Seattle Slew, Tomahawk won his seasonal debut in the listed Loughbrown Stakes at The Curragh on March 23.

Among the fillies going a mile in the the Prix de la Grotte are the first three from the listed Prix La Camargo on March 25 - Maiden Tower, Fidelio's Miracle, and Welcome Millenium. Visions of Clarity, a half-sister to Breeders' Cup Mile winner Spinning World, may have a slight edge over them.