05/13/2004 12:00AM

'Russian' in '04 debut


Russian Rhythm makes her much-anticipated 4-year-old debut at Newbury on Saturday in the $355,000 Lockinge Stakes, a one-mile Group 1 race for older horses.

Trained by Michael Stoute, Russian Rhythm was victorious last year in the 1000 Guineas and the Coronation Stakes going a mile, as well as the 1 1/4-mile Nassau Stakes, all Group 1 contests, before finishing a very good second to Falbrav in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. In the straight mile of the Lockinge she will face 14 opponents, but none appears to be in her class.

Refuse to Bend has not been the same since winning the 2000 Guineas last May, and the same can be said of the last year's Irish 2000 Guineas winner, Indian Haven. Hurricane Alan and Gateman are both group race winners at a mile this spring, but both would have show considerable improvement to trouble Russian Rhythm.

Better chances for second belong to recent Godolphin Mile winner Firebreak and French invader Krataios.

* The undefeated Lord du Sud beat favored Prospect Park at Longchamp on Thursday in the 1 1/2-mile Group 2 Prix Hocquart, a key French Derby prep.