As high winds played havoc with the sport elsewhere, Frankie Dettori blew up a sandstorm at Lingfield with a 486-1 treble on No Time, Caluki and Rosencrans in the day's three feature contests. His was a flying visit to the Surrey track from Dubai and involved flying finishes and flying dismounts that warmed the cold, wet watchers.
It was an all-Italian success in the Winter Derby as Dettori pounced late on 14-1 shot Caluki to beat trailblazing Anani by a neck, with Bustan a head back in third. The seven-year-old entire son of Kris, trained near Rome by father and son, Luigi and Fabrizio Camici, had won a Listed contest at Cagnes-sur-Mer last month on his first start on dirt. "Fabrizio is a good friend," said his rider. "He and I spent time together at Luca Cumani's. He definitely knows how to get a horse ready. I knew the horse was fit because he had just won in France. Today was his perfect trip, and he dug deep and got his head in front."
Four horses were in line abreast in the final half-furlong - fourth-placed Bourgainville did best of those from off the pace - and Caluki's driving victory, the first by an Italian-trained horse in Britain since Super Tassa won the Yorkshire Oaks three years ago, cost Dettori a one-day ban, on 31 March, for using his whip without giving his mount time to respond.
Caluki showed no ill-effects from his four-day journey from Italy by road to claim the £43,500 first prize. "We stopped one night in Turin and another in Chantilly," said Camici Jnr. "We are not rich sheikhs and he is very experienced and a good traveller. He gets the whole of the box to himself and doesn't have a problem with long journeys."
The 10-furlong contest is a Derby only in name, but there were genuine Classic contenders in the seven-furlong Spring Cup won by Rosencrans. The three-year-old was the first Godolphin runner in Britain this year, a scouting party well in advance of the 200-strong largest-ever strike-force by the Dubai-based team, due in Newmarket late next month. Looking magnificent, the visored son of Forest Wildcat justified 6-4 favouritism by a rather cosy half-length from fellow 2,000 Guineas entry Fokine, with Bahiano third. It was a particularly creditable effort by the Barry Hills-trained Fokine, runner-up in last year's Gimcrack Stakes, to run Rosencrans, race-fit from his third in the UAE Guineas and an easy win in a minor contest at Nad Al Sheba, so close from his wide draw on his seasonal debut.
The ride on No Time (12-1) in the five-furlong sprint was a chance one for Dettori, replacing the injured George Duf- field, and he produced a top-class tactical effort in saving every inch of ground on the inside rail to hold Speed Cop by a short-head. No Time runs with a metal plate in a foreleg after suffering a stress fracture last year, and trainer Mark Polglase gave due credit to Yvette Dixon, wife of the four-year-old's owner Paul, who nursed him back to health. No Time set a course record for the distance. "It's so windy I was blown all the way down the straight," joked Dettori, who returns to Britain tomorrow week after riding at the Dubai World Cup meeting on Saturday.
The first juvenile race of the season used to be the Brocklesby Stakes on the first day of the Doncaster turf opener, but Lingfield has now stolen Town Moor's thunder and yesterday Bunditten, a grey daughter of Soviet Star, became the first winner of her age this year.
Uttoxeter's gale-swept Midlands Grand National meeting yesterday was abandoned on safety grounds, but at rain-sodden Ascot, Nicky Henderson kept up his Saturday momentum when Lord Of The River jumped superbly under Richard Johnson to take the three-mile handicap chase, some compensation for his trainer's disappointing Cheltenham.