There is arguably no better big-race jockey on the planet than Frankie Dettori and I’ve spent the last few years lauding his near faultless displays in the saddle at the top level.
However, I can’t help thinking that Dettori and trainer John Gosden got the tactics completely wrong on Enable on Sunday and that may well have contributed more to her downfall than the testing conditions in Paris.
If ever a big race was there for the taking it was Sunday’s Arc. The withdrawal of all the Aidan O’Brien horses robbed the race of any pace and I can’t work out for the life of me how Frankie Dettori, with all of his big race experience, allowed Persian King to set steady fractions on the front end.
Maybe Enable would have been beaten anyway – we’ll never know. But what we do know is that Dettori allowed inferior rivals to dictate how the race was run, and I for one never expected to see that.
It was the perfect opportunity to sit and wait on the front end, before kicking when it suited Dettori, but he chose to let others have that advantage and it played a large part in Enable’s ultimately disappointing performance.
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While Sottsass was a worthy winner and almost certainly posted a career-best performance, the overriding feeling afterwards was that it was an unsatisfactory renewal of the world’s premier open-aged mile and a half race.
Everyone at Ballydoyle must be rueing the feed fiasco that meant Aidan O’Brian was forced to withdraw his horses because it’s pretty easy to argue that he would have won the race given Mogul beat the second and fourth further in the Grand Prix de Paris than Sottsass did in the Arc.
However, another horse that ran at Longchamp on Sunday might have beaten them all had connections taken the plunge and gone for the biggest prize of all.
Step forward Tarnawa, a fast improving 4yo filly that has now won two Group 1’s in the space of a month. She came from well off the pace to gun down Alpine Star in the Prix de l'Opera and I can’t help feeling that she’d have won the Arc had she taken her chance.
Versatile ground and trip wise, she is now heading to the Breeders’ Cup although ground conditions are likely to determine which race she runs in.
The Breeders’ Cup Turf looks the hotter contest at this stage, especially if Enable turns for one last hurrah, but Dermot Weld’s filly is going to be a force to be reckoned with whichever race she turns up in.
Assuming she stays in training next year, she will surely be aimed at the Arc.
Darley Dewhurst Stakes
Ante-post punters already thinking about next year’s 2,000 Guineas will be trying to solve Saturday’s Darley Dewhurst Stakes because it looks almost certain that the winner will head that particular long-range market going into the winter.
The Dewhurst is nearly always up there in the top two or three juvenile races run all season so it is no surprise that the race has considerable depth. However, you wouldn’t think so given the confidence that seemingly surrounds the chance of Chindit, who heads most betting lists at around 5/2.
You don’t need to have any ‘inside information’ to know that Chindit is already one of the best juveniles we have seen this year – he’s three from three and looked a Group 1 horse all over when winning the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster last time.
What does surprise me though, is that so much is being made in the racing media of Chindit’s ‘spectacular’ piece of homework in preparation for his Newmarket assignment.
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Richard Hannon Jnr has never been shy of talking up his chances when he’s got a good one and Chindit may well have worked the horse down on Saturday, but I tend to think these sorts of comments are best treated with the proverbial pinch of salt, and here is why: Chindit might turn out to be the best horse in the race without actually winning it.
First and foremost, he’s never run at Newmarket and we all know that there are plenty of horses not capable of showing their best form on the unique demands of the Rowley Mile. There may be a lack of pace in the race that means he doesn’t settle as well as he ordinarily would, or there may prove to be a track bias that he is on the wrong end of.
You get what I’m saying? Chindit might well be the second coming and I’m not for a second saying he won’t win on Saturday but whatever the quality of his homework, it will count for little if he is beaten because of one of the aforementioned reasons on Saturday.
Star of the Future?
It’s that time of year when jumps fans begin to get excited. We saw a couple of nice horses in Ireland last weekend, not least Shewearsitwell and Saint Roi at Tipperary, and there is every chance we could see a star of the future at Chepstow this weekend.
Paul Nicholls, winning trainer of this race four times in the last ten years, tends to target the Grade 2 Persian War Novices’ Hurdle with a good one and there is no telling how far McFabulous could go.
McFabulous has posted an improved performance on every hurdles start so far and he rounded off his career with an utterly dominant display at Kempton, where he dished out a thrashing to some in-form horses like Sevarano.
There is every chance the 6yo has even more to offer this term and don’t be surprised if he takes this en route to even bigger things, although bookmakers aren’t taking any chances with his price – he’s a shade of odds-on.
It’s almost certainly going to be a big season for Colin Tizzard, who won the Listed novices’ chase on Saturday with the mighty Cue Card in 2011. Tizzard has three in the contest at the five-day stage but the most exciting is surely Fiddlerontheroof who was a Grade 1 winning novice hurdler last year.
Fiddlerontheroof proved bitterly disappointing in the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle but connections haven’t wasted any time switching him to the bigger obstacles where he literally could be anything.