It is just over a year since Frankie Dettori was being pensioned off by critics of his ride on Dubawi in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, and barely weeks since his patrons at Godolphin were themselves receiving mordant notices to quit after an excruciating start to their European season. Yesterday both parties placed those hasty denunciations in due perspective with a colt who may yet succeed where Dubawi failed so unhappily.
Dettori gave Librettist an exquisite ride from the front to win the Prix du Moulin at Longchamp, extending his career record to seven wins in eight starts. The colt's sole blemish remains a disappointing run in the Dewhurst Stakes as a juvenile, from which he emerged with the ligament injury that cost him all of last season.
Last month Librettist made his Group One breakthrough at Deauville, and here he confirmed his eligibility for a championship showdown in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes - a race restored to Dettori's spiritual home, Ascot, after its tenancy at Newmarket last year - with another avid, uncomplicated performance.
True, if Dettori aspired towards Verdi, his pursuers would scarcely have managed a chorus from Gilbert and Sullivan. Christophe Soumillon, supposedly le grand seigneur round here, buried Manduro at the back of the field and Dettori took merciless advantage.
Longchamp is a track of fits and starts, and Dettori slowed the pace at every turn before sending his mount scuttling two lengths clear into the straight. It was a decisive manoeuvre. Inevitably, none of those in front of him being exhausted, Soumillon had to switch for a run and Manduro - who stays 10 furlongs well - was condemned to a desperate late surge. Librettist held on by half a length and the same from Stormy River and Manduro, who has now chased him home three times running.
Some might consider Manduro unlucky, but it is never a coincidence when a horse accumulates such a metronomic win record as Librettist. All in all, the Godolphin team can be proud of his emergence. With their undeniable resources, few were prepared to indulge them during their troubled spring, but the bottom line remains that their horses were very sick at the time.
"Yes, it was a great ride, but all credit to the horse as well," Simon Crisford, the stable manager, said. "He steps up to the plate every time and really deserves his success. He was badly injured in the Dewhurst, and that completely wiped him out for last year, and as a result it has been important for us to build up his confidence. That's why he started off in a conditions race, and then took each step on the way to this level. But he hasn't missed a beat, and he sits at the top table now."
The Danzig colt is a half-brother to Dubai Destination and is a precious stallion prospect. He gives Godolphin a mighty hand in the Breeders' Cup Mile, as Iffraaj also looks ideally tailored to a sharp test at the trip. The latter may tackle a Group Two race at York next, having declined the opportunity to have Reverence kick mud in his face at Haydock on Saturday, but only if the ground is suitable. As for Librettist himself, he is likely to take on the three-year-olds George Washington and Araafa at Ascot. "Obviously, we'll want to see how he comes out of this," Crisford said. "He's been pretty active this summer, but it's the obvious race to look at now."
Soumillon had earlier been able to show all his panache as Visionario magnified his reputation as the best two-year-old in France in the Prix de la Rochette. The Aga Khan's colt, a son of Spinning World, may not be the most elegant but had won both his previous starts in lesser company and, having been holstered early, merely needed pushing out to master another plausible prospect, Holocene, by a length. With Visindar in dry dock for the rest of the year, it seems that André Fabre has already found an equivalent source of Classic gossip this time round. An eighth furlong should certainly present no problems, and the sponsor duly introduced Visionario at 20-1 for the Stan James 2,000 Guineas.
Nap: Bronze Star (Warwick 4.50)
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