John Gosden’s genius helps Frankie Dettori win Doncaster’s St Leger

FRANKIE DETTORI was quick to laud his trainer, and mentor, John Gosden after odds-on favourite Logician won the 2019 William Hill St Leger in a new course record time.

Frankie Dettori produced a riding masterclass to win the St Leger on Logician.
Frankie Dettori produced a riding masterclass to win the St Leger on Logician.

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“The gaffer is a genius,” the victorious rider told The Yorkshire Post following one of the most popular wins ever in the 253-year history of the world’s oldest Classic.

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Frankie Dettori performed a flying idsmount after Logician's St Leger win.

Yet the 48-year-old’s heartfelt tribute does not do justice to the three minutes and 35 seconds of racing perfection that led to Dettori winning a 15th Group One race of 2019.

Unbeaten from four previous starts, Dettori had to use all his experience to settle Logician in the early stages of the one-mile, six-furlong race which the jockey was winning for a sixth time.

He then did not panic when the frontunners entered the home straight with a commanding lead – he instinctively knew the pace was a strong one and that they would tire.

And when he did ask Logician, owned by Prince Khalid Abdullah, to win the race, the burst of acceleration was decisive and Dettori did not have to over-exert the grey in the final stages of the gruelling race.

Jockey Frankie Dettori remains in the form of his life - at the age of 48.

They had two-and-a-quarter lengths in hand over the Mark Johnston pair of Sir Ron Priestley and Nayef Road who ran with great credit to finish second and third respectively for the Middleham trainer after Sir Dragonet, Aidan O’Brien’s main contender, failed to stay.

Yet the winning margin does not do justice to a commanding performance from a horse – winner of York’s Great Voltigeur Stakes last month – who is likely to be seen at his best over a mile- and-a-half in the future, and on ground with more give rather than this extended trip on firm going.

In a year in which Dettori’s career has reached new heights thanks to his association with horses like the Gosden-trained Enable, Stradivarius and now Logician, his horsemanship should not go unrecognised.

After all, this is a rider who now shuns the minor meetings and simply focuses on the bigger days – the racing equivalent of a top flight Premier League footballer only turning up for games in the Champions League and, on every occasion, producing their very best.

“John has always been keen on him and I should have known when he made me go to Newbury one evening to ride him in a handicap – I thought it was strange,” said Dettori who recorded another Group One win on Sunday afternoon when Star Catcher won at ParisLongchamp.

“He showed in the Voltigeur he was a good horse and there’s plenty more to come next year. They went fast and they tested my stamina. The ground has dried up a lot and he probably wants a bit of give that’s why he has a tendency to go right but I knew from two furlongs out I had it won.

“The St Leger has been very lucky for me. That was probably my easiest win (in the race), and he is a serious horse. I heard the roar, but we get it about five seconds later, so I’d nearly won by then! But it’s brilliant, there’s nearly 30,000 here, he was the hot favourite so hopefully they’ve lumped on.”

Paying tribute to Gosden’s decision not to race the horse last season, and to bide his time this year before deciding to let Logician take his chance on quicker-than-ideal ground, the jockey noted: “He’s only raced five times, it’s scary to say but there is some improvement there. We’ll have him next year and I can’t wait.”

Reflecting on his incredible year, Dettori added: “It’s been a great year, thankfully I ride for a great trainer who has lots of good horses in good races.

“We’ve won two Classics this year and we’ll enjoy this moment before we get ready for Enable and the Arc in three weeks’ 
time.”

Earlier Threat added to his burgeoning reputation by winning the Pommery Champagne Stakes – a race that Dettori won 12 months ago on subsequent Group One winner Too Darn Hot.

The Richard Hannon-trained youngster, victorious in York’s Gimcrack Stakes last month, looks to be a star of the future after taking this seven-furlong contest under Pat Dobbs.

Dobbs was replacing champion jockey-elect Oisin Murphy who was out of luck at Leopardstown where the Japanese raider Deirdre was a fast-finishing fourth to Magical, who led home a one-two-three for the aforementioned O’Brien. The Yorkshire challenger Elarqam was a disappointing seventh for the Johnston stable.

There was also no luck for this county in the Matron Stakes in which defending champion Laurens, trained by Leyburn’s Karl Burke, could only finish fourth to Iridessa, though the Boomerang Stakes did go to Space Traveller for Malton’s Richard Fahey.

However, this was – once again – another classic weekend for racing in which Frankie Dettori showed why he is still as good as ever.