Friday 17 November 2017

Dettori completes Golden comeback

Rejuvenated Italian veteran denies history-seeking Treve on Derby hero

Italian jockey Lanfranco Dettori
Italian jockey Lanfranco Dettori
Frankie Dettori riding Golden Horn win The Qatar Prix De L'Arc De Triomphe
Richard Forristal

Richard Forristal

Frankie Dettori yesterday capped his remarkable renaissance with an inspired Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe success on the Derby hero Golden Horn.

Three years after testing positive for cocaine at Longchamp, the ebullient 44-year-old Italian returned to the enchanting Parisian suburb to engineer the downfall of the mighty Treve.

Since re-emerging from a six-month ban and the ignominy of his split with Godolphin, Dettori has made a habit of reminding his old employers of what they are missing.

This time, though, he was rubbing the nose of his current boss in it. Dettori is now retained by Sheikh Joaan Al Thani's Al Shaqab Racing.

Two years ago, he steered Treve to victory in the Prix Vermeille, but then missed out on her first Arc victory due to injury.

Criquette Head-Maarek would eventually demand that Thierry Jarnet keep the ride on the exceptional mare, and it was he who was yesterday charged with guiding her to an unprecedented third success in the €5m Group One.

This time, on his 27th Arc mount in 28 years, Dettori excelled aboard Golden Horn to join Jarnet and five others with a fourth triumph in the great race.

On ground that had dried out considerably, Treve never looked at ease, fractious and awash with sweat under Jarnet early on.

Dettori, in contrast, always looked in control of his own destiny on Golden Horn. From a draw in stall 14 that had John Gosden joking about a conspiracy, Dettori took Golden Horn markedly wide.

It was a manoeuvre reminiscent of Willie Carson on Bahri at Ascot 20 years ago. Dettori eased Golden Horn back to the group but his poor draw had been negated. More than that, maybe, by taking his frequently gassy mount away from the field, he helped him to settle.

Once he tacked across, Golden Horn became a little more keen in behind Treve's pacemaker. However, when Dettori sent him on in the straight, it soon became clear that he had plenty of horse left.

At odds of 26/5, Golden Horn powered to Arc glory by two lengths. Last year's runner-up, Flintshire, was second again and his French Derby-winning Andre Fabre-trained stable-mate, New Bay, edged third from Treve.

"I really believed in this horse and he put it to bed like a superstar," Dettori (below) beamed.

"It was an amazing performance. I scratched my head all week about what to do, but I knew I was on the best horse so I wanted to make use of him and show the world just how good he really is. He's probably the best horse I've ridden."

Gosden added: "The plan was to do that to get him in a prominent position and it worked perfectly. Frankie has given him a great ride - he rides this track quite beautifully."

Golden Horn was the seventh Derby winner to follow up in the Arc. Workforce was the last to do the double in 2010, and this was an emphatic performance that undoubtedly puts the winner in an elevated realm.

Like John Oxx's brilliant Sea The Stars, he has been campaigned with joyous abandon by Gosden and Anthony Oppenheimer, whose bold statement last week that not only would his home-bred beat Treve, but beat her easily, was a breath of fresh air. It was also prophetic.

Whereas Sea The Stars began his incredible sally of six Group One wins in as many months in the 2,000 Guineas, Golden Horn only began his tenure at the top table in the Derby. In the interim, he had added the Eclipse and the Irish Champion Stakes, and then there was that still inexplicable defeat to Arabian Queen at York.

He doesn't need to do much more to be considered an all-time great. Sportingly, though, he looks poised to get the chance to, as the Breeders' Cup Turf is now on the agenda.

Soon after, he will join Darley Stud, which is a coup for Sheikh Mohammed, who also stands his and Sea The Stars' sire, Cape Cross. Treve has already been retired.

Free Eagle fared best of the Irish in sixth, but both he and Found (9th) didn't enjoy the clearest of runs. Found's trainer-jockey combination of Aidan O'Brien and Ryan Moore enjoyed better luck earlier when Ballydoyle (6/4) ran out a decisive winner of the Prix Marcel Boussac, a Group One that Found had plundered in 2014.

After beating Jim Bolger's Turret Rocks in the mile event, Ballydoyle now heads the betting for next year's 1,000 Guineas and Oaks.

"The ground really was just what she wanted and Aidan thinks she's a very, very good filly," Coolmore's Michael Tabor revealed. "She worked well at home so we were reasonably confident. I'm not too sure about (middle distances) but the Guineas trip should be ideal."

At Newmarket a day earlier, O'Brien and Moore enjoyed a runaway win in another valuable juvenile fillies' race with the odds-on Alice Springs.

Pat Smullen, who would go on to complete a double on Ralph Beckett's Carntop (3/1), took the boys' equivalent at the expense of the elite firm's Waterloo Bridge aboard the Hugo Palmer-trained Gifted Master (9/2).

The reigning champion jockey excelled from the front on Gifted Master, and he did so again in yesterday's Prix de l'Opera aboard Covert Love, on which he had also been brilliant in the Irish Oaks. Second to Pleascach at York, Covert Love dug deep yesterday to repel Dettori on Jazzi Top by a head.

Both are three-year-olds, as are the Foret one-two Make Believe and Limato. Andre Fabre's French 2,000 Guineas winner set a track record under Olivier Peslier by fending off Limato, which came from a long way back.

The Classic crop finished the day having claimed 14 of the 24 open Group Ones run in Ireland, England and France this term.

They are an above average group across the spectrum, from sprinters to milers to middle-distance horses and fillies. One that has yet to prove his worth against his elders, of course, is Gleneagles, a horse that simply hasn't had the opportunity to fashion his own legacy in the way that Golden Horn has.

Fallon no-show proves costly

If Frankie Dettori was exhibiting how best to respond to self-inflicted exile at Longchamp, Kieren Fallon sadly continues to fail to do likewise.

Dettori's fellow former champion has struggled to rebuild his career after two drug-related bans, and yesterday he failed to turn up for two booked rides at Tipperary. He was fined €500 for doing so by the stewards. More's the pity for him, because he missed out on what would have been a welcome winner in the shape of Sovereign Debt.

Dandy Nicholls' 2/1 favourite needed the intervention of the stewards to be awarded the Group Three Concorde Stakes.

The Dermot Weld-trained Tested passed the post a short-head to the good under Leigh Roche, but she edged across Sovereign Debt in the process, and the manner in which the cross-channel raider was gaining at the line under stand-in rider Declan McDonogh made it a pretty easy decision for the stewards.

There was a slightly unsatisfactory outcome to the Grade Two Istabraq Hurdle. Tony Martin's JP McManus-owned Thomas Edison had been sent off odds-on to atone for his luckless exit in the Galway Hurdle. Poised to challenge in the straight, he wasn't unduly punished by Barry Geraghty when he failed to pick up in the manner that he looked likely to. It was left to McManus' Plinth (6/1) to prevail for Mark Walsh from Fethard Player, both of which had plenty to find with Thomas Edison on official ratings.

The Grade Three novices' hurdle threw up a more intelligible outcome, with Willie Mullins' Bachasson finding plenty to justify his odds-on status under a determined Ruby Walsh. Walsh was also at his brilliant, composed best aboard The Game Changer in the Grade Two novices' chase.

Gordon Elliott's 5/2 shot had been passed over by Bryan Cooper, who had to settle for second aboard Rule The World. The Game Changer was winning his third graded race on the spin, just six days after landing his second at Roscommon.

In the handicap hurdle, the improving Phil The Flyer (6/1 fav) defied a 14lb hike to readily complete a hat-trick for Nenagh's Ray Hackett under Jack Kennedy.

No joy for Irish raiders in America

War Envoy was scratched from the Turf Mile at Keeneland on Saturday and it was a frustrating night in general for the Irish in America.

His Ballydoyle stable-mates Easter and Outstanding failed to place in the First Lady Stakes, as did David Wachman's Curvy in the Flower Bowl at Belmont Park.

Tweet of the weekend

Roger Varian (@varianstable)

Andrea Atzeni to ride as retained rider for Sheikh Mohammed Obaid Al Maktoum in 2016.

The Newmarket handler posts a link to a statement on his website that reveals Jamie Spencer's Qatar Racing successor is returning to his old employer one year into a two-year deal. Safe to say not too many saw that coming.

Numbers Game

200k What Willie Mullins's right-hand man Harold Kirk paid for Riven Light at the Arqana sale in Paris on Saturday. The Raven's Pass three-year-old has won once in six Flat starts in France and could be a Triumph prospect.

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