Things We Learned » Dettori rejuvenated

Dettori rejuvenated

The race that opened the July meeting at Newmarket on Thursday, the Bahrain Trophy, may only have been a Group 3 contest, but it still didn’t stop Frankie Dettori doing a flying dismount off Mr Singh’s back when he won it.

There was a time, not so long ago, when the Dettori Dismounts were reserved for Group 1 contests.  There was another time, more recently, when they weren’t even in play for Group 1s because of an injured ankle.  And shortly after that, we wondered if we would get to see many of them again.

These days, you can probably hope to see one after a significant Dettori winner.  Significant in this context is difficult to define, but Mr Singh obviously qualified as significant on Thursday.  Maybe because he was a Group 3 winner, maybe because he was providing Dettori with a record seventh Bahrain Trophy, maybe because Dettori was led in, in bag-piped celebration of his 30th year in Newmarket, the 30th anniversary of the day that he arrived with enough English to say that he didn’t have much English.

Much has happened in Frankie’s World in the last 30 years.  Indeed, much has happened in the last two.  There have been difficulties, there have been fractured relationships, and there has been the loss of the ride on one of the best racemares that we have seen in a generation.  But there have also been new relationships, like the one with Sheikh Joaan, and there have been re-kindlings of old ones, most notably the one with John Gosden.

The rejuvenation of Dettori has been one of the stories of this season so far.  For that, the rider owes a lot to Gosden.  There is no doubting that the talent is still there, Dettori is riding as well as he has ever ridden, but in order to showcase the talent, you need the vehicle, you need the horses.  You need the stages to which good horses provide access, and you need the confidence that they imbue.

You could see what Golden Horn’s win in the Eclipse last Saturday meant to Dettori.  Flying dismounts all over the place.  The Eclipse was an addition to Golden Horn’s Derby, Dettori’s second and his first since 2007.  The Derby was obviously paramount, but the Eclipse was also important.

Add the French Oaks on Star Of Seville for Gosden, the Tercentenary Stakes on the exciting Time Test for Roger Charlton, and the Diamond Jubilee on Undrafted for American trainer Wesley Ward, as well as other Group 3 wins.  The rejuvenation of Dettori is great for Dettori, but it is also great for racing.

Is Flintshire really at his best going right-handed?

An interesting notion has developed, in advance of the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at right-handed Ascot in two weeks’ time, that Flintshire might be better going right-handed than going left.

Sure enough, Andre Fabre’s colt has never won going left, while he has won four times going right.

But he has gone close.  His record at left-handed tracks reads 242232, his record going right reads 1211482212.

Also, those races at left-handed tracks were at Epsom (twice), Saint-Cloud (twice), Santa Anita and Meydan, all six races at Group 1 level.  Of his four wins going right-handed, two of them were at Group 1 level.

He achieved his career-high Timeform rating of 128 twice, once at (right-handed) Longchamp and once at (left-handed) Saint-Cloud.  His next best Timeform rating of 125 was achieved in the Coronation Cup last year at Epsom, a left-handed track.  He achieved a rating of 123 three times, twice going left and once going right.

Perhaps more importantly, Prince Khalid’s horse’s two Timeform 128s were recorded on good to firm ground, as was his 125 and one of his three 123s, with the other two being achieved on good ground.  It may be that fast ground is more important to Flintshire than the orientation of the track.

Stalls test

It was on this weekend 50 years ago that starting stalls were trialled for the first time for flat races in Britain.  Inevitably, according to the reports, there were plenty of Flat-Earthers who were against the new apparatus, maintaining that stalls would be a negative for racing.  Now, imagine flat racing without them, and observe the discomfort on those rare occasions on which flat races have to be started without them.

You have to imagine that, at the time, it was difficult to think of an alternative to the tried and tested starting gates.  Just like, at the moment, it is difficult to think that starting stalls could ever work for National Hunt racing.

But the start in National Hunt racing continues to become more and more important.  We have walk-ins and jig-jogs and flag starts and false starts, and every time a man goes out onto the track to tie the two broken pieces of tape together, we have comments about 2015 technology.

Is it really that outlandish to think that National Hunt horses could be loaded into stalls at the two-mile start?

Majestic run

So Majestic Queen didn’t win the Group 3 Brownstown Stakes at Fairyhouse on Sunday but, in going down by a length and a half to the Ger Lyons-trained Ainippe, the Tracey Collins-trained mare still put up one of the best performances of her career.

There is something highly satisfying in the fact that, following her sale to Godolphin, the Kheleyf mare remained in training with Tracey Collins.  Collins knows her mare well, she has improved her from an opening mark of 80 to her current career-high mark of 106, taking in two Group 3 races along the way.

The fact that Majestic Queen remained on the Curragh is a function of the new Godolphin policy of using multiple trainers, of leaving horses where they are even after their purchase, and it is a policy that is reaping dividends both in Britain and in Ireland.

Four of the best Godolphin horses in training in Britain are in training outside of the two recognised Godolphin yards, with Richard Hannon (Night Of Thunder), Mark Johnston (Buratino) and John Gosden (Romsdal and Maverick Wave).

In 2015 to date, 36 individual horses have raced in the Godolphin colours in Ireland.  Two of them were visitors from British yards, but that still leaves 34 that have raced for Irish trainers.  Jim Bolger and Michael Halford, of course, between them have been responsible for the majority of the Godolphin runners here, but Willie McCreery, John Oxx, Dermot Weld and now Tracey Collins have also saddled Godolphin runners.  The blue silks (with navy seams) are a welcome addition to Irish racing’s kaleidoscope.

Elliott’s Sunday

At the five-day declaration stage for Perth tomorrow, Gordon Elliott had 40 entries: 11 in the first race (out of a total of 21 entries), nine in the second (out of a total of 28), three in the third (of 12), six in the fourth (of 19), five in the fifth (of 18), three in the sixth (of 18) and three in the seventh (of 12), and the bookmakers readied their odds on an Elliottfest.

Unfortunately, the Elliott Entry has been whittled down to just six, one in each of the last six races.  Regrettably, the trainer has no runner in the opening novices’ hurdle.  Pity, he won’t go through the card now – not even Gordon Elliott can win a race in which he has no runner – but at least he has simplified it for the punters: the Super Heinz on his six runners could yield a decent return.

© The Irish Field, 11th July 2015