Dettori leads Golden Horn to Arc glory

Hat-trick seeking Treve can only finish fourth behind Fllintshire and New Bay

 Frankie Dettori riding Golden Horn celebrate winning The Qatar Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe at Longchamp racecourse in Paris, France. Photo:  Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

Frankie Dettori riding Golden Horn celebrate winning The Qatar Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe at Longchamp racecourse in Paris, France. Photo: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images

 

Frankie Dettori is no physical giant at five feet four inches but racing’s most identifiable figure casts such an overwhelming headline-grabbing shadow that even winning the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe wasn’t enough to put the superb Golden Horn centre-stage at Longchamp yesterday.

With the redemptive narrative surrounding Dettori’s return from near-career oblivion, not to mention turning the tables so emphatically on the hat-trick seeking Treve, whose trainer ordered the Italian jockey removed from the mare last year, the Arc focus inevitably beamed on one figure.

And Dettori merited every bit of it after an inspired big-race ride of daring and intelligence which reminded everyone why even though he won his first Arc all of 20 years previously, and has packed a lot of turbulence in between, he still possesses a natural talent to rival any jockey who’s ever perched on a thoroughbred.

Faced with a wide draw, a stall location you suspect trainer John Gosden only half-jokingly referred to as a “Rosbif draw,” it was some Mediterranean brio which figured out the solution was to do exactly what nobody expected and race Golden Horn even wider for the first half-mile.

Too free

At the line the English Derby hero was well in command of the Andre Fabre pair, Flintshire and New Bay, with Treve only fourth. Cue Dettori delirium as he equalled the Arc record for a jockey with four wins and in the midst of it all it was easy to overlook the substance behind the showman’s description of the colt he’d just ridden as “probably the best horse I’ve ridden”.

There can be no doubting now Golden Horn’s ascent to the pantheon of great horses. The colt who weaved a wayward path to the Irish Champion Stakes last month has also secured Eclipse and Dante glory in 2015 and overall been beaten just once during a superb seven-race career.

Outstanding champions

Lammtara managed it. So did Sea Bird and Mill Reef. But the list of luminaries who found Paris a step too far is a lengthy one and includes names like Nijinsky, Troy and Generous.

Golden Horn stepped up to the task in style and if the aplomb with which he managed it couldn’t immediately compete with the man on his back, time and cold rational handicap ratings will surely redress the balance.

“Everyone was telling me I had to sit behind off that draw but I wanted to show the world how good he is and he put it to bed like a superstar,” Dettori said. “It was an amazing performance. I scratched my head all week about what to do but I knew I was on the best horse.”

It was a first Arc for Gosden and Britain’s dominant trainer said: “It’s great to win the Arc in France and the Derby in England – that’s what it’s all about. When you’re drawn wide, if you stay wide for a long time, you can run your own little race, not be bothered, and then slot across. It was a wonderful ride.”

Arc winners have a history of coming unstuck in the Breeders Cup, claiming even Dancing Brave as a scalp. However Golden Horn could yet have a career finale at Keeneland before retiring to stand as a stallion at Darley. Stud also beckons for dual winner Treve who appeared to uncomfortable with the quick ground conditions.

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