Grand slam to Dettori

St Leger: Cliche has the last word of the Classic season as the Godolphin stable underline their racing dominance
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The Independent Online
FRANKIE Dettori celebrated his 1,000th British winner in the best possible way here yesterday with his now-familiar victory leap from the saddle of the St Leger winner Classic Cliche. The 219th running of the world's oldest Classic was the first victory in the race for the champion jockey, who hardly had a second's worry from the time he launched Classic Cliche past the leader Jural down the long, unrelenting Doncaster straight.

The son of Salse, backed to favouritism near the off, had opened a clear lead from the three-furlong marker and kept galloping in tremendous style on the soft ground he loves to pass the demanding mile and three-quarter test with flying colours. He passed the post three and a half lengths clear of the outsider Minds Music, who stayed on well out of the pack but was never a danger, with Istidaad two and a half lengths third.

Classic Cliche - the sixth European Classic winner for Sheikh Mohammed's all-conquering Godolphin stable - has been competing at the highest level all season, having finished fourth in the French Derby and fifth in the Irish version, but had not won since taking the Dante Stakes in the spring. The Godolphin manager, Simon Crisford, said: "We were never concerned about the distance with him, the only question was his class, as he had always seemed to find one or two too good. But the ground was a major factor in his favour."

Ironically, it was the softened ground that gave Dettori the winning ride. He was originally booked for the fast-going specialist Presenting, and when that colt was withdrawn on Friday he replaced Walter Swinburn - fifth yesterday on the French challenger, Affidavit - on Classic Cliche.

Dettori's first winner in Britain was on Lizzy Hare at Goodwood in 1987. Since then he has been champion apprentice, champion jockey and now won three Classics. He recalled: "I beat Steve Cauthen in a photo that day at Goodwood, and I thought that was a tremendous feeling. The rest all seems to have happened so quickly.

"Classic Cliche is a wonderful horse, so determined and brave. After I went to the front I didn't dare look round until I took a glance in the last 50 yards, and I couldn't believe how far I was ahead." Classic Cliche, who will stay in training at four, is likely to carry on this season's campaign in the United States, but will miss the Breeders' Cup meeting.

At Leopardstown Pentire, beaten a neck by Dettori and Lammtarra in the King George at Ascot, took the Guinness Champion Stakes from Freedom Cry and Flagbird with a decisive last-furlong flourish.

On a tremendous weekend's racing the Group 1 focus today switches to Longchamp and The Curragh. In France there are three trials for the Arc (for which Lammtarra is ante-post favourite) over the big-race course and distance. Four British-trained challengers - Caramba, Larrocha, Fanjica and Musetta - make the journey for the three-year-old fillies' race, the Prix Vermeille, but the home side's defence will be stout, headed by the old rivals Carling and Matiara, who meet for the fifth time with the score two-all, and the well-regarded Muncie. Caramba, untried over a mile and a half but bred to get every yard, is on the upgrade and may fare best of the raiders.

Half an hour later the four-runner Prix Foy (Group 3) should be a match between last year's Arc winner Carnegie and Balanchine. The Group 2 Prix Niel, restricted to colts of the Classic generation, has attracted only four contestants, but a case can be made for all of them. Salsabil's brother Song Of Tara, trained by Peter Chapple-Hyam, provides the British interest and is unbeaten in his two runs, but faces a tough opponent in the Irish Derby winner, Winged Love.

British stables, represented this afternoon by My Melody Parkes, Rouge Rancon, Tamnia, Needham Star and Zelzelah, have won the last four runnings of the Moyglare Stud Stakes for two-year-old fillies at The Curragh. Paul Kelleway, who won last year's race with Belle Genius, sends out the last two named, with the runaway Newbury winner likely to start favourite. Her form looks solid, but she will have to run to her best to cope with the Dermot Weld-trained Dance Design.

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