Just as they have been all season, Kieren Fallon and Frankie Dettori were locked together at Breeders' Cup XXI. It was a sweet embrace too as the men who have fought out the domestic jockeys' championship were pulled together in the winners' enclosure.
Fallon won on Ouija Board, Dettori on Wilko, which meant that the British entry, supposedly weak on numbers, was certainly not short on results. Both won.
Fallon's was the anticipated success as Ouija Board came rowing across heavy waves, like Grace Darling, to the rescue in the Filly and Mare Turf. At that stage of the world thoroughbred championships, the European entry had capsized and were clinging to the rocks. Then came the tiny Wilko, who made a nonsense of both his British form and a dismissive price to collect the Juvenile.
It was dual redemption for Britain's most dramatic of jockeys. Fallon distanced a turbulent domestic campaign, while Dettori was able to fire back at the Americans who have never let him forget a torrid ride on Swain in the Classic six years ago.
The ugly thought for the Americans is that Ouija Board is already slated for the Turf next year at Belmont Park, New York. They ought to be afraid. Neither the filly nor Fallon made a single false step.
Ouija Board was quickly forced up into the vanguard as the gate opened, settling into fourth as the action went from furious to sedate. Filtered across to the rail by Fallon, the dual Oaks winner began her challenge on the final turn. The Irishman, who won this race 12 months ago on Islington, pulled the trigger and, by the time he blew away the smoke, Ouija Board had gone.
"I got the position I always wanted and although they didn't go very quick I was always confident because this filly can really quicken. You never worry when they have got a turn of foot like this," he said. "I was pretty confident turning for home because I knew I had the best filly. It was easy for me today really.
"I couldn't worry because she was travelling so well. I asked her before the turn to pick up the bridle because she is lazy and she picked it up straight away. If I'd asked her again she would have given more. I know her very well now because I've ridden her enough times."
Ed Dunlop, the winning trainer, walked arm-in-arm up the dirt course with owner Lord Derby. "I thought Kieren gave her a fantastic ride and he really needed this as he has been getting so much flak," Dunlop said. "This win could not have come at a better time. Racing needs Kieren Fallon.
"The biggest attribute the filly has got, apart from her turn of foot, is that she has a fantastic temperament."
The laurels in the Juvenile went to the hardy horse in Wilko, for whom this was an 11th run of the campaign. The Americans had given up on the horse as much as his jockey and sent off the mount of Dettori at 28.3-1. The little chestnut abused any idea he would run like his odds by firing into the teeth of the dirt.
At the top of the stretch he looked cooked, but then a second wind blew him down the outside and past Jeremy Rose on Afleet Alex. Here, in Dallas, Dettori had shot down JR, as well as any notion that he could not ride a Breeders' Cup dirt winner.
"I was young then and I have improved a bit since," he said. "I can't believe this. The horse has worked well on the dirt but we were just hoping to hit the board. I got outpaced at the quarter pole and I thought we would be a good fourth because we were going nowhere. But then they stopped so I pulled him out and he picked up. And then it was a dream come true."
It was a first Breeders' Cup winner at the first attempt for the Newmarket trainer Jeremy Noseda, and a perfumed parting with a colt who will continue his career with Craig Dollase in the United States.
"After his second start in England I told Susan Roy [a part-owner] that this could be a dirt horse," Noseda said. "He has always trained better on an artificial surface. Two months ago I thought this was a horse with the experience and pedigree to be a Breeder's Cup Juvenile horse."
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