09/25/2002 11:00PM

O'Brien will start just one in QEII


Weather holds the key to the participation of Rock of Gibraltar and Hawk Wing in the one-mile Group 1 Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.

The Aidan O'Brien-trained stablemates are both entered, but only one of them will run. It will be Rock of Gibraltar, the winner of five Group 1 miles and the Breeders' Cup Mile favorite, if the ground turns soft, but Hawk Wing will run if the going remains good to firm, as expected.

That is because O'Brien thinks Rock of Gibraltar can run on any type of ground, but Hawk Wing must have fast ground to be at his best.

Runner-up in the 2000 Guineas, the Epsom Derby, and the Irish Champion Stakes, Hawk Wing did manage to win the 1 1/4-mile Group 1 Eclipse Stakes in July. Like Rock of Gibraltar, Hawk Wing, a Woodman colt, is being considered for both the Breeders' Cup Mile and the Classic. The performance of the O'Brien trainee who runs on Saturday will have great bearing on which horse is seen in which race at Arlington Park on Oct. 26.

Godolphin is preparing both Noverre and Best of the Bests for the QEII. Winless since the 2001 Sussex Stakes, Noverre is coming off a lackluster sixth in the Atto Mile at Woodbine. Best of the Bests was a heartbreakingly close third behind Grandera and Hawk Wing in the Irish Champion and is in the best form of his career.

Gossamer, the Irish 1000 Guineas winner, was only two lengths behind Rock of Gibraltar when third in the one-mile Prix du Moulin de Longchamp three weeks ago, but he will only run in the unlikely event of soft ground. Recent Group 2 Celebration Mile winner Tillerman and listed winner Where or When are the upset hopes.

Summitville will try to turn the tables on her Sweet Solera Stakes conqueror Soviet Song in the Group 1 Fillies Mile on the same card. Summitville has since won the one-mile Group 3 May Hill Stakes at Doncaster and may be better suited to Ascot's uphill mile than Soviet Song, who beat Summitville at seven furlongs.

Michael Stoute will saddle his easy Warwick maiden winner Rainbow Queen in the Fillies Mile. Mail the Desert, sold after her victory in the Moyglare Stud Stakes, is likely to skip the race in favor of the Prix Marcel Boussac at Longchamp on Oct. 6.