Magazine article The Spectator

Dream Victories

Magazine article The Spectator

Dream Victories

Article excerpt

It is no secret that low-flying pigeons have had to move into the passing lane lately when Nance was out on the New-- market gallops. He was as easy a winner as I have seen of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, and how appropriate that such a fine horse should be the vehicle for carrying an always confident Frankie Dettori to his 100th Group One success. Britain's favourite rider had declared in the morning that the only way Sakhee would lose was if he fell off. But the way he won, by a margin equalled only by Ribot and Sea Bird, was superb.

It required real stamina to get home on the soft ground, but Sakhee not only excelled in his high cruising speed but showed real class in his ability to accelerate away from his rivals, even on that ground. Aquarelliste, the one-time favourite for the race, was six lengths behind Sakhee and never looked like reducing that gap. Frankie and Sakhee shared the triumphant headlines and rightly so. But in truth, as Frankie admitted, it was a bit of a steering job.

What I will not forget though, having been reduced to television-watching when morning downpours forced Sandown to call off racing on Saturday just as I passed through the gates, was the all-round display which Frankie gave in scoring a remarkable treble at Longchamp the day before. Poor Richard Hills must have been sure he was going to win the Prix de Royallieu when he came on Ranin to catch Frankie's mount Moon Queen. Frankie had set a steady pace, then moved up a couple of gears coming into the straight and sprinted for home. Hills came at him, got Ranin's head in front, and then saw Frankie, without use of the whip, squeeze out the little bit he had saved from his mount to get home by a nose.

On China Visit, Frankie waited in front, stole a good lead on his rivals - including the L3 million stakes winner Jim and Tonic - and got away on ground which was always going to make an overhauling job difficult to hold on by a comfortable length. On Wareed, again for Godolphin, Dettori also showed brilliant judgment of pace and of how much horse he had left under him, making virtually all in a deluge to pull away from Capel Garmon at the end of the race.

Like anybody Frankie doesn't ride a perfect race every day, as we were reminded at Ascot recently. But it isn't just coincidence that he has accumulated that century of Group One winners. As a jockey for the big occasion he remains as good as any riding. And he provides ten times the fun that most of the others do when he wins. …

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