09/07/2002 12:00AM

Grandera continues Godolphin's dominance


Grandera rallied in deep stretch to nail favored Hawk Wing at the wire and give Godolphin and trainer Saeed bin Suroor their fourth victory in the last five runnings of the Group 1 Champion Stakes on Saturday at Leopardstown in Ireland.

Sholokov, coupled with Hawk Wing in the betting, shot to the lead early in the 1 1/4-mile race, and was still 10 lengths in front of his nearest rival, Best of the Bests, with two furlongs to run.

But Best of the Bests, also owned by Godolphin and coupled with Grandera in the betting, closed the gap fast and took the lead, with Hawk Wing advancing into second and Grandera fourth.

Hawk Wing, off at 4-5 and ridden by Mick Kinane, caught Best of the Bests about 50 yards from home, but on the outside came Grandera, under Frankie Dettori, to collar Hawk Wing and win by a head. It was another neck back to Best of the Bests in third in the field of seven.

Grandera was timed in 2:04.70 on a turf course labeled good. The Grandera-Best of the Bests entry went off at 2-1.

The victory was Dettori's fourth in the Champions. Previously, he won the race with Swain (1998), Daylami (1999), and Fantastic Light (2001) - each of whom went on to run in the Breeders' Cup.

Grandera, however, might run next in Australia, while attempting to become the first Northern Hemisphere-trained horse to win the Cox Plate. The Cox Plate, with a winner's share of approximately $1 million, will be run at Moonee Valley in Melbourne on Oct. 26, the same day as the World Thoroughbred Championship races at Arlington Park.

"He might go to Australia for the Cox Plate now," Godolphin racing manager Simon Crisford said."That race should suit him very well. He will be entered at the Breeders' Cup as well and we'll make a decision nearer the time."

* At Haydock Park in England, longshot Invincible Spirit wore down Malhub in the final furlong to win the Group 1 Haydock Park Sprint Cup.

Invincible Spirit, a 5-year-old son of Green Desert, owned by Prince Faisal of Saudi Arabia and trained by John Dunlop, went off at 25-1 and gave Carroll his first Group 1 win in Europe.