Dettori unstoppable as he brings home Bounty

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The Independent Online
The margin between getting it very right or very wrong is thin in race- riding, but Frankie Dettori, who can clearly walk on water, added the ability to part the waves to his repertoire here yesterday. The man of the moment found himself trapped on the rails behind a wall of horses with a double handful on the favourite, Bahamian Bounty, in the feature race, the Middle Park Stakes, with a quarter of a mile to go. Then, as if by divine command a gap opened up in front of him and neither horse nor jockey needed a second bidding to grab the slice of luck.

Bahamian Bounty dived through and flashed past those nearest to him, Easycall and Rich Ground, in a matter of strides. Almost simultaneously Richard Hughes found daylight on Muchea in the centre of the pack and with the pair thundering wide of each other up the hill Dettori had to work hard to keep Bahamian Bounty going, for the big, lazy colt has a tendency to idle in front once his job appears done, and with no close competitor, it did. But when Dettori insisted he responded well to get back in front, and the head winning distance was in his favour.

The relieved jockey admitted: "I have to say I was a bit worried a furlong and a half out. But Pat's horse [Easycall] came off the rails for a stride, and he just wooshed through. He has a tremendously high cruising speed and a terrific turn of foot, but if he has a fault it is that he stops in front, and that gave the other horse the chance to get back at him."

The chestnut son of Cadeaux Genereux, now a dual Group One winner after his Prix Morny victory in August, is likely to go for the three-timer in the Dewhurst Stakes over an extra furlong back at Newmarket later this month. The final decision will rest with his new owner Maktoum Al Maktoum, but his trainer, David Loder, is keen on the idea. "He's fresh and well, having had a break after the Morny, and I am sure the seven furlongs will be well within his compass," he said. "both Frankie and Walter Swinburn feel that it would suit him at this stage of his career, and I would even see him as a Guineas horse."

The bookmakers view, however, seems to be that Bahamian Bounty would not get a mile in a horsebox, for he remains at around 25-1 for the 1997 Classic.

The colt was Loder's first runner for the senior Dubai brother, who gave an estimated pounds 1m for him two days ago - a fair return on the 45,000 guineas laid out by his erstwhile owner, the Lucayan Stud, at the Houghton Sales a year ago - but whether or not he will be prepared for the Guineas in Newmarket or Dubai remains to be seen.

The Middle Park was the 102nd victory of the season for Dettori - who moved to his fifth consecutive century at Brighton on Wednesday - and his ninth Group One winner of the year. But the news yesterday that the Italian has been accepted to ride in Hong Kong for the month of December came as a reminder that life was not always such plain sailing. The Hong Kong authorities turned down his application four years ago after a brush with the police over possession of drugs.

Dettori said: "I'm delighted at the prospect and very proud that they have asked me. They didn't give me a reason why they turned me down last time, but they didn't have to. But I was only 21, very young, and had rather lost my way at the time. But that is all history now."

The jockey's next Group One opportunities come at Longchamp this weekend. His Arc mount, Classic Cliche, doubtful earlier in the week after a few off-colour days, was confirmed as a runner after a sparkling six-furlong spin with Halling on the Limekilns. Simon Crisford, the Godolphin racing manager, said: "He seems back to his old self. The ground [good to soft] will suit him well, as it will put the emphasis on stamina, and he is a tough horse who will be able to cope with a rough race."

The Gold Cup winner has been re-introduced into the Arc betting as the best British hope, behind Helissio, Swain, Zagreb and Darazari, but his baby sister My Emma, winner of the Prix Vermeille, will miss the big race after her connections decided against supplementing her yesterday morning.

Willie Carson, badly injured when he was kicked at Newbury two weeks ago today, has "made excellent progress", according to his surgeon and has been released from hospital to start a period of convalescence.