Racing: Doyen swoops and conquers

Royal Ascot: Record-breaking dash to glory brings Godolphin their sixth success and leaves Dettori speechless

When Frankie Dettori announces "I'm speechless," it has to be understood the statement is made only in the same sense that Imelda Marcos would declare that she's a bit short of footwear. After Doyen smashed a mile-and-a-half track record that had stood for 21 years in the Hardwicke Stakes here yesterday, the articulate Italian's initial reaction was stupefaction in the face of a performance of pure, and slightly unexpected, quality, but only momentarily. Once into his stride, he was as fluent as the four-year-old he had just ridden.

When Frankie Dettori announces "I'm speechless," it has to be understood the statement is made only in the same sense that Imelda Marcos would declare that she's a bit short of footwear. After Doyen smashed a mile-and-a-half track record that had stood for 21 years in the Hardwicke Stakes here yesterday, the articulate Italian's initial reaction was stupefaction in the face of a performance of pure, and slightly unexpected, quality, but only momentarily. Once into his stride, he was as fluent as the four-year-old he had just ridden.

Doyen's six-length annihilation of High Accolade, courtesy of a top-class change of gear in the short straight, launched him straight to the top of the season's middle-distance rankings, at least in bookmaker perceptions.

He has overtaken the Derby hero North Light as favourite for the great midsummer showpiece back here next month, the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes. The Hardwicke Stakes is a Group 2 contest, but Doyen's display looked like a Group 1 performance, and was duly accorded one of the famous flying dismounts that his rider usually reserves for top-level victories.

It was a sixth success of the Royal week at his favourite course for Dettori and the Godolphin team. Doyen was aided and abetted by his pacemaker Songlark, who was taken on by Systematic for the lead from the off, and the pair were still clear on the turn in.

"Songlark came off the bridle a bit early for me," Dettori said. "I didn't want to give Systematic too much rope, so I had to move closer a bit sooner than planned. I followed in his slipstream and picked him up going past the two-furlong marker. I was only in third gear and he just took off, whoosh! He just took my breath away.

"We thought he'd put up a good effort but not like this. He's a lovely horse, a very special horse. He takes me back to the good old days with Swain and Daylami." Considering that pair won three King Georges between them, that is no mean compliment.

Doyen, bred by Sheikh Mohammed, was trained by Andre Fabre last year and was recruited to the flagship Dubai-based operation after his fourth place in the Arc. "I remember when I first sat on him, this time last year, Andre said to me 'sit last, pull him out in the straight, go and win the race'," Dettori said. "I said 'just like that?' And he said 'yes', and he was absolutely right, he had that same burst of speed.

"In his prep for the Arc, I was the only one who managed to get close to Dalakhani, and I thought in the Arc he'd have a great chance, but he was still on the weak side then and didn't quite handle the holding ground. But he has grown over the winter into a fine big powerful horse."

Doyen opened this year's campaign with an unlucky second in the Coronation Cup. "He was only about 80 per cent then, so it was a huge effort," Dettori added. "But I am only the pilot. I steer them in the right direction and try not to make any errors. I get all the glory, but it is the team behind the scenes who do all the work. There was a lot of that during the winter and we had a progressive spring. Now this week we have been picking the fruit off the tree."

Remarkably, Godolphin horses fill four of the first five places in the King George betting. After Doyen and the Michael Stoute-trained North Light come Sulamani, fourth in Wednesday's Prince of Wales's Stakes, Papineau, the Gold Cup winner on Thursday, and Rule Of Law, the Derby runner-up.

Their trainer, Saeed Bin Suroor, is delighted with such an embarrassment of riches. "We'll see nearer the day who we think is the best," he said. "You can't keep them all in top form all the time. Doyen will, I think, improve further for this race. At Epsom he was rather hot and nervous but here he was more relaxed. Papineau is a class act at a mile and a half as well as the Gold Cup distance. Sulamani has already proved he is top-class and he is the one who would appreciate a little more cut in the ground. I think perhaps the ground was too fast for him this week."

Doyen covered the 12 furlongs in 2min 26.53sec, cutting 0.37 of a second off the previous best, set by Stanerra in the same race in 1983. Time was of the essence in the Golden Jubilee Stakes, the meeting's sprint feature. On the same day 12 months ago, Fayr Jag proved no horse could gallop the straight six furlongs here faster when he set a track record in the big handicap, the Wokingham Stakes. Upgraded in class this time round, the 12-1 shot prevailed in a tight finish by two heads from the French raider Crystal Castle and Cape Of Good Hope, the horse from Hong Kong who ran second in Tuesday's King's Stand Stakes.

Trainer Tim Easterby, based at Malton, Yorkshire, did not bother to make the journey south, preferring duty at Redcar. His father, Peter, said: "We came down mainly for Dazzling Bay in the Wokingham, but thought we may as well bring Fayr Jag as well. And we've left him in the July Cup by mistake, so I suppose we might as well run him there as well."

Dazzling Bay ran well in his race, but not quite as well as the four in front of him at the line. Lafi, the 6-1 favourite, gave Dandy Nicholls, the sprint king among trainers, his first Royal Ascot winner in beating Coconut Penang (12-1), High Reach (10-1) and Royal Storm (16-1).

Suggested Topics
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
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

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?