Sport Horse Racing

Saturday 16 December 2017

Bunting flies high for Dettori

Chris McGrath at Newmarket

if Frankel had appeared to meet an inexorable destiny the previous day, then the second Classic of the weekend was won here yesterday more or less by accident.

Blue Bunting would probably have started her season in an Investec Oaks trial, but for the setback that ruled her stablemate, White Moonstone, out of the English 1,000 Guineas.

In the event, however, they went off so hard into a headwind that her stamina proved a decisive asset even over a mile, and Godolphin could celebrate their first Newmarket Classic since Kazzia won this race in 2002.

The relief was transparent in their senior jockey, Frankie Dettori, whose return to due eminence gratified the crowd very nearly as much as that of Henry Cecil with Frankel. "I haven't won a Classic for a while, especially here in my home town," he said. "It was a pleasant surprise. She had a lot to prove on form."

It is not just in having Blue Bunting herself up their sleeves, moreover, that Godolphin's managers have shown the merit of spreading your eggs between more than one basket.

This filly is trained by Mahmoon al-Zarooni, promoted to head a stable in his own right after previously serving as assistant to Saeed bin Suroor. The latter, who appeared in the winner's enclosure to shake his compatriot's hand, has endured a very slow start to his campaign -- as has very much been the case for Godolphin overall in recent springs.

Al-Zarooni, in contrast, has landed running with his three-year-olds; indeed, he had won an Investec Derby trial here the previous afternoon with Ocean War.

And the momentum of his stable almost seemed to thrust Blue Bunting into the lead in the final stages, charging up the stands rail to intrude upon a duel between two unexpected protagonists in Together and Maqaasid. The latter's suspect stamina only gave out in the closing stages, while Together finally pieced together something substantial from the bits and pieces she had shown previously -- a timely boost for Ballydoyle, with the imported Australian superstar, So You Think, making his debut for the stable at The Curragh today.

Nova Hawk fared best of the French raiders in fourth, just ahead of Barefoot Lady, with Havant keeping on steadily, but Hooray was swallowed up from two out and Memory was tailed off after all but refusing to race.

Having inadvertently won one Classic, Blue Bunting is no better than 7/2 favourite to vindicate the original strategy at Epsom. Dettori is certain the filly, by Dynaformer out of a French staying family, will prove better again over the Oaks trip.

Those who backed straight after the race, moreover, received a fairly immediate boost when Dorcas Lane saw off a couple of Oaks fancies in the Pretty Polly Stakes -- precisely the sort of race that Blue Bunting was originally supposed to have contested.

"We always thought she was a mile-and-a-half filly and wanted soft ground," al-Zarooni said. "She has shown us that everything we thought about her was wrong!" (© Independent News Service)

Irish Independent

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