Poet's Voice puts crown on Dettori masterclass
'I don't have a statue here for nothing," Frankie Dettori said after the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, with his best film-star smile. From anyone else it might have sounded arrogant, but not from him, not at Ascot, and above all not on this day.
Fourteen years ago, he went through the card with all seven winners.
Twenty years ago, he rode his first two Group One winners, in the Fillies' Mile and the QEII, and yesterday there was a repeat performance, thanks to White Moonstone and Poet's Voice, as well as two more successes in supporting races for a 217/1 four-timer.
Poet's Voice got home by a nose from Rip Van Winkle in the QEII, with Makfi, the 2,000 Guineas winner, among the also-rans. In the stands, few would have called the photo-finish with any confidence, but Dettori was celebrating a stride after the line. No one knows or rides Ascot better.
With two winners on the board for Dettori, there was plenty of money for Poet's Voice, though he still started third-favourite at 9/2. On the book, he needed to have improved from a victory at Goodwood last month, but he looked like a horse who was thriving in the paddock beforehand and duly underlined it on the track.
"You know me when I get on a roll, it just happens," Dettori said.
"Saeed [bin Suroor] was very confident, and that gave me lots of confidence, and the horse did the rest.
"This day is very special for me, and I think this is my fifth QEII. The crowd gets behind me, and riding good horses helps as well. The place has a real magic for me. Looking at the photograph, perhaps I was a bit over-confident [of the result], but he had his head down on the line and I knew that Johnny [Murtagh] hadn't come back to me."
Poet's Voice will now head to the Breeders' Cup Mile in Kentucky in early November, where the opposition is likely to include Goldikova, the winner of the race for the last two years. He is improving so rapidly, though, that given luck with the draw, he is not a forlorn hope. Hill's make Goldikova the 2/1 favourite, with Poet's Voice and Rip Van Winkle quoted at 9/2.
Frankel has yet to contest a Group One event, but he is the 2/1 favourite for next year's 2,000 Guineas after a 10-length success in the Royal Lodge Stakes that summoned memories of the runaway victories of two-year-olds Arazi and Celtic Swing.
What neither of those exceptional juveniles managed to do was to win the Guineas the following spring, but while the opposition was moderate by Group Two standards, Frankel powered away from them with such casual ease that normal progress alone would surely make him difficult to beat at Newmarket in April.
Frankel almost ran away with Tom Queally, galloping straight past his field in just a few strides as they turned for home and then striding further clear all the way up the straight. Despite being under no pressure, he completed the mile nearly a second faster than White Moonstone in the Group One Fillies' Mile, the next race on the card.
Henry Cecil, Frankel's trainer, reached back to the 1970s in the search for comparisons. "In the last two months he's started to improve, improve, improve," Cecil said. "He's got a lot of talent, the way he works, I don't think I've had a better two-year-old since Wollow, which was a long time ago, nearly 40 years.
"I'd question whether he can get the Derby trip. The dam [Kind] was very fast, and the female being the stronger sex, the dam side has come out a lot in him. He's got a lot of class, and he could easily be a Guineas horse. Now we've got to decide whether we go to the Dewhurst [on 16 October] or the Racing Post [Trophy on 23 October]."
Tom Queally, Frankel's jockey, was not surprised by the ease of his win. "I moved to get a little bit of room and he just went up through the gears so quickly," he said. "It would be nice to think he could continue on an upward curve."
White Moonstone, Dettori's first Group One winner on the day, will head into winter quarters as the 4/1 favourite for the 1,000 Guineas, and a 5/1 chance for the Oaks. "Her turn of foot wasn't as good today as it was at Doncaster [two weeks ago]," Dettori said, "but her class pulled her through. Now we can dream."