02/01/2007 12:00AM

Formal Decree rallies for narrow win


Formal Decree came from last to first to nip Ace and Oracle West on the line in a thrilling renewal of the Group 3, $200,000 Al Rashidiya at Nad Al Sheba on Thursday night as he extended his winning streak to three.

Having missed the break, Formal Decree, a 4-year-old German-bred son of Diktat, was still last of 11 as they turned for home. Pat Smullen, substituting for Weichong Marwing aboard Oracle West, then found a gap along the rail to lead at the quarter pole. The South African-bred Oracle West appeared to be home free at the furlong marker, but Formal Decree and Ace, the ex-Aidan O'Brien trainee who had been second in the 2005 Breeders' Cup Turf, were charging down the outside.

They corraled the game Oracle West near the line as Michael Kinane managed to take the bob aboard Formal Decree by a short head. The same margin separated Ace and Oracle West, while Olympian Odyssey was fourth, 1 1/2 lengths behind Formal Decree. Touch of Land finished an unthreatening eighth.

The winner was timed in 1:50.35 for the 1 1/8 miles on good ground, a respectable time given the slow early pace.

Formal Decree, the winner of the highly competitive 1 1/8-mile Cambridgeshire Handicap at Newmarket in his 2006 finale when trained by Alan Swinbank, had taken a handicap over the Al Rashidiya course and distance in his first start for Ismail Mohammed on Jan. 18. Owned by Sheikh Mohammed's second son, Hamdan, he is being pointed to the 1 1/2-mile Dubai Sheema Classic on March 31, as are Ace and Oracle West – in spite of the fact that the Al Rashidiya is widely regarded as a prep for the 1 1/8-mile Dubai Duty Free.