Dettori hoping return to the Curragh is Worth Waiting for
Royal Ascot’s top rider will have to overcome Oaks runner-up Pink Dogwood in feature
Frankie Dettori: has two rides scheduled for the Curragh on Friday. Photograph: Bryn Lennon/Getty Images
Frankie Dettori can’t celebrate the 25th anniversary of his sole Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby success in Saturday’s Classic renewal but Curragh officials will hope the Italian superstar can capture public attention with a ‘Frankie Friday’ instead.
Dettori returns to action for the first time since being crowned top rider at Royal Ascot last week when travelling to Ireland for two rides on Day Two of the Derby festival.
He teams up with Luke Comer who will saddle his German winner Raa Atoll in the Group Two Curragh Cup, a race the well known businessman sponsors, before aiming for Group One success on the English raider Worth Waiting.
She is one of seven lining up in the Juddmonte Pretty Polly Stakes, a rare top-flight gap in her rider’s stellar big-race CV.
That includes Irish Derby glory quarter of a century ago on the filly Balanchine who proved a crucial boost to the fledgling Godolphin operation which has since become one of the world’s biggest bloodstock businesses.
“It was my only Irish Derby win and I was only 23 so I was ecstatic,” Dettori has recalled. “It’s a massive big feat for a filly to beat the colts and we were all ecstatic. It was a historic moment for us and a magic day for me.”
The legacy of Balanchine’s victory will be evident in Friday’s Pretty Polly with Godolphin’s Wild Illusion taking her chance in a potentialClassic head-to-head clash with Ballydoyle’s No. 1 hope, Pink Dogwood.
Such a prospect between European racing’s dominant teams always adds an extra ingredient although Dettori will hope to trump both of them aboard Worth Waiting.
She is one of four older fillies declared to take on a trio from the Classic generation and represents Newmarket-based Irishman David Lanigan.
Worth Waiting looked progressive when landing the Dahlia Stakes on her only start this season but she is up against a proven top-flight performer in Wild Illusion. Godolphin’s triple-Group One winner failed to fire in the Prix d’Ispahan last month but is a formidable opponent back against her own sex.
They all could struggle however against the Oaks runner-up Pink Dogwood who drops back to a mile and a quarter and gets almost a stone from the older horses.
The standard bearer of Aidan O’Brien’s three runners looked to have the Oaks in a bag after a sweeping effort in the straight only to ultimately get nabbed late by an inspired Dettori on Anapurna.
Five of the last seven Pretty Polly winners have been cross-channel based older horses. The exceptions were two O’Brien-trained three year olds. Pink Dogwood could prove another exception.
Last year’s Irish Derby hero Latrobe returns to HQ for Friday’s Curragh Cup. Joseph O’Brien won the race in 2017 with subsequent Melbourne Cup winner Rekindling, the only interruption to his father’s run of success over the last six years.
Dettori’s mount Raa Atoll won a German Group Two last month but could subsequently finish only sixth at Belmont Park.
Southern France didn’t fire when dropped to a mile and a half at Royal Ascot but his second to Stradivarius at York prior to that was much more encouraging in this stayers’ context.