Racing: Dettori and Fallon lead home the brave

Breeders' Cup XXI: Two wins from two runners for Britain prompts question why so few made the attempt
Click to follow
The Independent Online

The Four Seasons Hotel at Los Colinas was the place to be in the aftermath of Breeders' Cup XXI on Saturday night. Jeremy Noseda, the Newmarket trainer, was there, with a glass of champagne. So too was Edward Richard William Stanley, the 19th Earl of Derby, or Teddy to his friends. They represented the two British horses that had competed at Lone Star Park. They represented winners.

The Four Seasons Hotel at Los Colinas was the place to be in the aftermath of Breeders' Cup XXI on Saturday night. Jeremy Noseda, the Newmarket trainer, was there, with a glass of champagne. So too was Edward Richard William Stanley, the 19th Earl of Derby, or Teddy to his friends. They represented the two British horses that had competed at Lone Star Park. They represented winners.

The good Lord survived the celebrations and was yesterday back in the environs where Ouija Board had hammered her rivals into the Texas sod in the Filly & Mare segment of thoroughbred racing's world championships. The gear looked a little different: his jeans were topped by an immense silver belt-buckle, his torso covered in a tan suede jacket. The smile seemed vaguely familiar though.

"The whole season has been slightly surreal," he said. "We have to enjoy it because I am realistic enough to know that this is my once-in-a-lifetime filly. She is a world champion. It can't get any better."

Little had been left to chance by Kieren Fallon as he rode the most exquisite of races in the black and white colours. The Irishman even borrowed the cap of his American counterpart Pat Day, one which bore both the born-again Christian's name and a pattern of the cross.

Ouija Board required some rather more earthly help after she wobbled on her return to the winners' circle. A cooling blanket was thrown over her heaving body, while Robin Trevor Jones, travelling head lad to trainer Ed Dunlop, squirted a jet of water into her mouth.

With the next race came confirmation that the doomsters were wrong. Just two British runners had set off on the trail to Texas, sent on their way with a belief it would be near impossible to rustle away a prize in cowboy country. In the event, Wilko made it two for two for Newmarket and Britain in the Juvenile.

Jeremy Noseda, the little chestnut's trainer - well his trainer on Saturday at least - was surprised by the lack of British involvement. "When you're playing away from home it's always a little bit tougher, but there was no reason that Lone Star was going to be any harder than going to California or wherever," he said. "I was astonished by the lack of English representation in the Mile and particularly the Turf [won by Better Talk Now, trained by Cambridge-born, Maryland-based Graham Motion]. That wasn't the best contest in the world."

Wilko is 33-1 for the Kentucky Derby with Coral, but is on the path to the Run For The Roses with a different man. "We had a sad moment half-an-hour ago when we said goodbye and saw him go over to Craig Dollase's barn," Noseda added. "We knew it was coming, but it was a tough moment after yesterday."

Wilko's win was also a triumph for Frankie Dettori, who is never allowed to forget the slewing ride he gave on Swain at this series at Churchill Downs in 1998. "What about Swain now, you bastards," he asked the American press after winning on Daylami at Gulfstream Park the following year. "It took a year to get my own back on those bums."

The ride on Daylami was good, but Saturday's was better. Unencumbered by the pressure of riding a fancied horse, Dettori just let it roll. The Italian did not panic when the leaders got away at the top of the straight. He kept working away methodically. Wilko did the same.

There is always a vacancy for a beleaguered European rider at this meeting though. Hallowe'en came early for Jamie Spencer on Saturday, with five straight defeats on horses trained by Aidan O'Brien. Antonius Pius's reluctance to go by in the Mile was not pretty, but the wart-ugly ride was on Powerscourt in the Turf.

After a slow start, Spencer made his grand move round the outside down the back-stretch. It was a manoeuvre so rare in North American racing, one which is considered a sure way to burn out your horse, that the crowd took in collective breath.

Spencer did it because his confidence is in spasm. O'Brien declined to publicly criticise his jockey, but then he declined to say anything at all at that point. His body language seemed to be swearing though, with hands in fists on his waist.

Generous odds are not available that when the Breeders' Cup rota gets round to Belmont Park in New York again next fall the young man will still be a part of the Ballydoyle set-up.

Comments