Racing: Dettori plays Refuse To Bend mind games

Getting a horse into physical condition is one thing, sorting his head out quite another. Horses do not think the way we do, but they do think and yesterday Frankie Dettori turned shrink as he analysed the riddle posed by Refuse To Bend, his mount in Saturday's 107th Eclipse Stakes at Sandown. The enigmatic colt, winner of last year's 2,000 Guineas, had been a flop in the Godolphin team colours until winning the Queen Anne Stakes, his first top-level success since his day of days on the Rowley Mile.

Getting a horse into physical condition is one thing, sorting his head out quite another. Horses do not think the way we do, but they do think and yesterday Frankie Dettori turned shrink as he analysed the riddle posed by Refuse To Bend, his mount in Saturday's 107th Eclipse Stakes at Sandown. The enigmatic colt, winner of last year's 2,000 Guineas, had been a flop in the Godolphin team colours until winning the Queen Anne Stakes, his first top-level success since his day of days on the Rowley Mile.

Between times, the son of Sadler's Wells had failed in the Derby, the Prix du Moulin, the Breeders' Cup Mile, the Dubai Duty Free and the Lockinge Stakes. He was Dettori's pick of the blues' three in the last-named contest and despite his mount's dull eighth place the Italian kept the faith at Royal Ascot. "He is a horse who looked magnificent all winter in Dubai," Dettori said. "He always worked well, always gave me a good feel and I always thought he'd win another Group One. I have to admit I was I was getting confused, but I stuck with him and he delivered."

Patience is a watchword for Godolphin and in Refuse To Bend's case it paid off with his neck defeat of Soviet Song at Ascot. "He had a long, hard campaign last year," said Dettori, "running in the Guineas, Derby and Breeders' Cup and it took its toll on his confidence. It took him a couple of races this season to realise that he was still one of the good horses and he showed that at Ascot. It was a tough race but hopefully it will mark the way forward for him."

But for all his satisfaction over Refuse To Bend's mental rehabilitation, Dettori is under no illusions about the task facing the four-year-old on Saturday, when he not only tries 10 furlongs for the first time but takes on the reigning champion at the distance, Rakti. "I was pleased to see mine put his head in front at Ascot, but Rakti is an exceptional horse," he said of the Michael Jarvis-trained ex-Italian five-year-old. "I saw him last year and I've seen him this year and I think he must have put on 30lbs. He looks a complete mountain of a horse now."

The Eclipse Stakes, for which Rakti is favourite after his demolition of the Prince of Wales's Stakes field, marks the first top-level middle-distance clash of the generations. Refuse To Bend, supplemented to the race (won by his sire 20 years ago) at a cost of £20,000, is vying for second market place with Rakti's Ascot victim, the Irish four-year-old Powerscourt, and the pick of only two three-year-olds among the 14-strong entry for the £409,000 Group One extravaganza, Derby fifth Salford City.

Four 2,000 Guineas winners have won Eclipses as four-year-olds: Colorado in 1927, Darius (1955), Royal Palace (1968) and Brigadier Gerard (1972). "Refuse To Bend is taking on one hell of a field but he had a good wake-up call at Ascot," said Dettori "And from the first minute I rode him in Dubai I thought 10 furlongs would be his trip."

RICHARD EDMONDSON

Nap: Brazilian Terrace

(Lingfield 2.40)

NB: Penrith

(Kempton 8.10)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (B2B) - Romford - £40,000 + car

£35000 - £40000 per annum + car and benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager...

Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Helpdesk Analyst - Devon - £20,000 ...

Ashdown Group: Data Scientist - London - £50,000 + bonus

£35000 - £50000 per annum + generous bonus: Ashdown Group: Business Analytics ...

Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Development) - Kingston

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Coordinator (Software Dev...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: ‘We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon’, says Ed Balls

'We will not sit down with Nicola Sturgeon'

In an exclusive interview, Ed Balls says he won't negotiate his first Budget with SNP MPs - even if Labour need their votes to secure its passage
VE Day 70th anniversary: How ordinary Britons celebrated the end of war in Europe

How ordinary Britons celebrated VE Day

Our perception of VE Day usually involves crowds of giddy Britons casting off the shackles of war with gay abandon. The truth was more nuanced
They came in with William Caxton's printing press, but typefaces still matter in the digital age

Typefaces still matter in the digital age

A new typeface once took years to create, now thousands are available at the click of a drop-down menu. So why do most of us still rely on the old classics, asks Meg Carter?
Discovery of 'missing link' between the two main life-forms on Earth could explain evolution of animals, say scientists

'Missing link' between Earth's two life-forms found

New microbial species tells us something about our dark past, say scientists
The Pan Am Experience is a 'flight' back to the 1970s that never takes off - at least, not literally

Pan Am Experience: A 'flight' back to the 70s

Tim Walker checks in and checks out a four-hour journey with a difference
Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics - it's everywhere in the animal world

Humans aren't alone in indulging in politics

Voting, mutual back-scratching, coups and charismatic leaders - it's everywhere in the animal world
Crisp sales are in decline - but this tasty trivia might tempt back the turncoats

Crisp sales are in decline

As a nation we're filling up on popcorn and pitta chips and forsaking their potato-based predecessors
Ronald McDonald the muse? Why Banksy, Ron English and Keith Coventry are lovin' Maccy D's

Ronald McDonald the muse

A new wave of artists is taking inspiration from the fast food chain
13 best picnic blankets

13 best picnic blankets

Dine al fresco without the grass stains and damp bottoms with something from our pick of picnic rugs
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers