What An Epic

July 28th, 2019 | Marten's Current Racing Diary

Hi there

Yesterday’s King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Qipco Stakes turned into the epic battle everyone was hoping for.

The ‘right’ horses filled the frame, with the admirably gutsy Salouen finishing a highly creditable fourth. However it was the tussle between Enable and Crystal Ocean that stole the show, with the winner excelling herself in overcoming the widest draw of all and then fighting back to regain the lead from the eventual runner-up.

In my view Frankie Dettori might not have won the race in those days when he was out in the doldrums. It is well known among the professionals that Frankie is a ‘confidence’ rider – nobody better when things are going well but prone to dark moods when they are not.

His resurgence since teaming up with John Gosden – who must be given enormous credit for his inspired mentoring of Dettori – is certainly comparable with the way Tiger Woods and Lester Piggott picked themselves up from what looked career-ending setbacks.

The jockey’s confidence was demonstrated yesterday in the calm manner in which he bided his time, realising from an early stage that none of his rivals – least of all the Ballydoyle phalanx – were going to let him slide in between them.

I see from the Racing Post that the filly covered 2,149.8 metres – almost two metres further than Crystal Ocean – but it was the cool way Dettori rode the filly in the straight, relying on hands and heels after a gentle tap with the whip soon after the turn, that marked out the sublime nature of this ride.

Running in what could be deemed the greatest prize of all, Dettori rode with the calmness and confidence of a master, a reflection of his respect for the filly’s ability and, perhaps more, the affection in which he holds her.

The proximity of Waldgeist, just one and three-quarter lengths back in third, augurs well for his autumn campaign – he was four and a half lengths behind Crystal Ocean on worse ground at the Royal meeting – and there is a case for suggesting on quicker ground he might have been closer.

Andre Fabre has eked out some improvement from Waldgeist and many will take the view that at 16/1 he is each-way value for the Arc, especially if the weather is dry in October. This run puts him within just a pound of the front two and that is on ground he would not have liked.

It wouldn’t surprise me if connections opted to give York a miss with Enable. The Arc is and always has been her main target, and many a great horse has left its season behind on the Knavesmire in August.

Looking ahead I would be keen on Crystal Ocean and Waldgeist each-way for Paris. There will be the draw and ground to factor in, of course, but at this stage odds of 9/1 and 16/1 seem fair.

Bye for now