EIGHT years after Frankie Dettori and Authorized narrowly failed to add the Coral-Eclipse to big race victories in York’s Dante and Epsom Derby, the Italian maestro made no mistake as Golden Horn completed the hat-trick after a thrilling duel with Yorkshire challenger The Grey Gatsby.
This was a virtuoso performance by Dettori, who was outridden and outwitted in 2007 by a young and then unheralded Ryan Moore.
Moore took the most circuitous route around Sandown in search of better ground aboard Notnowcato who had enough in hand at the end to secure a famous victory.
Despite being slow out of the stalls, Golden Horn soon dictated terms in this to avoid being drawn into a tactical battle in this five-runner landmark Grade One race over 10 furlongs in which the best three-year-olds take on older and more experienced horses for the first time.
Dettori and Golden Horn were stalked throughout by the Jamie Spencer-ridden The Grey Gatsby, which looked a major threat in the home straight.
It momentarily headed the Derby victor who then showed his class by pulling clear to win by three and a half lengths.
Nothing should be taken away from the performance of the Kevin Ryan-trained The Grey Gatsby, the 2014 Dante hero.
He has been second in three of the four Group One races that he has contested this year and has accrued nearly £2.5m in career prize money.
As a four-year-old, he was conceding 11lb to the Golden Horn who was becoming the first horse since Sea The Stars in 2009 to win the Derby and Eclipse in the same year.
Magnanimous in defeat, Hambleton-based Ryan said his stable star will now have a lay-off before returning to the fray in the Juddmonte International – York’s richest ever race – on August 19, day one of the Welcome to Yorkshire Ebor Festival.
“It was a great race, which the race deserves to be,” said Ryan.
“I think we’ve seen two exceptional horses, for him to concede the weight he has done. I thought two furlongs down we had him, but Golden Horn is an exceptional horse. There were no hard-luck stories. Both jockeys rode great races.
“We’re very proud of our horse and I think now we’ll just wait for the Juddmonte.
“I’d love to take him back to York, our home track. It gives us about six weeks, I think he deserves that now.”
As for Golden Horn, who is now unbeaten in five starts, connections will consider stepping back up in trip for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes at Ascot on July 25 – or return to York for the Juddmonte.
It is a tough call – John Gosden’s champion has had four races in relatively quick succession – and Golden Horn is unlikely to line up in both contests. His ultimate objective is Europe’s signature Flat race, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, at Longchamp in early October which, fitness permitting, is likely to be the colt’s final race before being retired to stud.
“He can’t do everything, unfortunately,” said owner-breeder Anthony Oppenheimer.
“If he went for the King George, I’m sure he wouldn’t go to York, but if we have to miss the King George he has already shown in the Dante that he loves the course and the distance, so it’s no problem. We’ll see how he comes out of the Eclipse.”
However, Dettori’s post-race debrief says there could be even more to come from Golden Horn whose form was further franked when stablemate Jack Hobbs, runner-up at both York and Epsom, won the Irish Derby.
“He’s a remarkable horse and up there with the very best I’ve ridden,” said the jockey.
“Jamie Spencer rode a great race and took me on three out and got upsides at the two.
“My horse had every chance to give in, but he showed what a true champion he is. In all the races I’ve rode him in, he never finishes tired. He must have a remarkable physique as he hits the line running every time. I think he’s still got some left.”
Middleham trainer Mark Johnston’s decision to turn out Notarised a week after he was unplaced in the Northumberland Plate paid off as the front-running gelding lifted the bet365 Old Newton Cup at Haydock from his stablemate Watersmeet.
Today’s cards: Page 8.