Tuesday 25 July 2017

Dettori shines as Godolphin colt edges out O'Brien hope

Chris McGrath , at Royal Ascot

QUITE RIGHT, Bart. That wasn't worth two bob. Actually it was priceless.

But then it was not just the reputation of thoroughbreds in the Old World -- notoriously disparaged by Bart Cummings, his previous trainer -- that was upheld here yesterday by a sensational defeat for So You Think, the imported Australian superstar.

This was also an expressive rejoinder from a jockey who has dominated the European Turf, and these acres in particular, for many years. Even in his moment of vindication, however, Frankie Dettori contrived to cast new light on his present insecurities.

Dettori's celebrations, after Rewilding had worn down So You Think in the Prince of Wales's Stakes, had been literally pointed. As he roared at the stands, he inverted his index finger and jabbed his chest.

personal

This was not just about his patrons at Godolphin, celebrating a first Group One success at this meeting since 2007. Nearly 15 years after the Magnificent Seven, it was more personal than that.

For it seemed impossible not to link Dettori's gesticulations and those of Mickail Barzalona in winning the Derby, 11 days previously. The French teenager had already been fast-tracked as Dettori's understudy at Godolphin, and his Epsom success had seemed to confirm him as an obvious heir.

Dettori's efforts were clearly intended to show that Barzalona may have to wait a while yet. He was so remorseless with the whip that the stewards gave him a nine-day ban. He seemed intent on reminding Barzalona that one swallow does not make a summer.

Conditions remained pretty fast by the time So You Think swaggered on to the track, everything about him suggestive of substance -- except, that is, for miserly odds of 4/11. Cummings had not even bothered to watch his first races for Aidan O'Brien, mocking the calibre of opposition. This time, however, he would be given something worth staying up for.

True, just as Frankel's pacemaker had set off at a ludicrous rate the previous day, so Jan Vermeer offered little to the Ballydoyle cause. After missing the break, leaving So You Think to race freely without cover, Jan Vermeer was rushed into a clear lead before emptying rapidly turning in. Only now, as Ryan Moore kicked on the favourite, did Dettori urge his mount forward. Rewilding got up to win by a neck, the pair six lengths clear of Sri Putra.

It felt just like old times to see Dettori, in the Godolphin blue, duelling with one of Ballydoyle's most precious stallion prospects. We have not seen enough of this in recent years, but credit is due to Godolphin for regrouping. Rewilding represents two positive responses of their own devising: groomed by Andre Fabre, he was transferred to Mahmood Al Zarooni, who was promoted to supervise his own yard last year.

Al Zarooni had recently saddled his first Classic winner, Blue Bunting, in the 1,000 Guineas. It was in neglecting to ride out that filly for third in the Oaks that Dettori had picked up the 10-day suspension that starts tomorrow and sees Barzalona riding Delegator for Bin Suroor on Saturday.

Dettori praised the race as a perfect advertisement for the sport. "It's sheer joy when you see two great horses battle it out like that," he said. "Godolphin and Ballydoyle are two great teams and we put our life and soul into the job. This is what we're here for -- to have these kind of finishes, in great races like this."

Rewilding is likely to return next month for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes.

As for So You Think, O'Brien mentioned the Coral Eclipse as a possible target. "It was more my fault that he got beaten," he said. "I just didn't have him fit enough. He does a demolition job at home and maybe he needed to have done a bit extra as he has such a capacity for work."

Richard Hannon, meanwhile, could finally believe what he saw in a gallop at Kempton last week was true after Strong Suit bounced back to form in emphatic fashion in the Jersey Stakes.

The three-year-old had surprised the trainer when finishing upsides Canford Cliffs, the brilliant winner of Tuesday's Queen Anne Stakes. But Hannon could not tell for sure if a breathing operation the colt had after he disappointed behind Frankel in the Greenham Stakes had worked. Strong Suit (11/1) saw out the race in great style as he beat Codemaster by half a length, with Western Aristocrat back in third.

"We took him to Newbury racecourse two days after that race as we couldn't believe how badly he had run," said Hannon. "We put a camera on him and it showed that his throat was closing so he wasn't getting enough air.

"It was a straightforward operation and when we worked him at Kempton the other day I couldn't believe it. I should have put a couple of hundred of quid on him but I didn't."

Hannon and Hughes completed a double -- with their third winner of the meeting so far -- when Best Terms ran out a thrilling winner of the Queen Mary Stakes. The red-hot favourite Shumoos was closing all the while inside the final furlong, but Brian Meehan's youngster failed by a short-head to reel in the winner. Caledonia Lady (100/1) claimed third, just another head away.

The trainer's son and assistant Richard Jnr said: "We'll give her a break now and have a look at the Lowther at York and maybe the Cheveley Park." (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

Promoted articles

Editor's Choice

Also in Sport