Racing: Daylami's day to remember

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The Independent Online
IT WAS a day which needed a fairytale horse, a white charger, and it was day which gave us Daylami. After all his confederates had been mown down, Godolphin's great horse emerged through the battlefield smoke here in Florida to save them all.

Daylami won the Turf at Gulfstream Park and he also won the accolade as the first European horse to win a Breeders' Cup event at this venue. Before he stepped on to the grass here 13 of his running mates had failed on this the third rotation here, 44 had gone west in all.

It was a rescue for European horses and a considerable rescue for his rider. Frankie Dettori died a death at this event 12 months ago when Swain failed at Churchill Downs and his reputation disappeared in a hail of American arrows. This was his response.

"I'm glad I've laid Swain's ghost," he said as he hurled his helmet into the air. "This is sweet redemption. It took me six months to get over Swain and everyone buried me. Now Daylami has got me out of trouble."

Dettori has admitted his will to win was a destructive influence last year and he promised a cooler performance. He was good to his word. Daylami was not rushed but slotted on to the rail in mid-division. There was little urgency until he reached the top bend and then a lot came all at once. Daylami was driven for his life in probably the last race of his life and he did not disappoint as he registered Godolphin's first Breeders' Cup success.

The five-year-old burned down the stretch to overtake Royal Anthem, Buck's Boy and Dettori's own emotions. The rider looked to the cloudy sky and blessed himself. On his return, Dettori accomplished the highest flying dismount of his career and the relief came tumbling out. "Come on me," he yelled at the crowd. "What about Swain?" he asked them.

"A lot of people out there were waiting for me to mess up again. Revenge is a dish best served cold and today I have had mine freezing cold. Everyone judged me on one ride.

"I made a mistake but you cannot judge a 10-year career on that. It has been a long 12 months and I was in tears in the last 100 yards out there. I could not believe it was happening."

Daylami and the fairytale apart, there were a lot of thorns and ogres around for the visitors yesterday. The hurricane season lingered a little longer than normal here in southern Florida. And the debris included the aspiration of 17 European horses.

Breeders' Cup XVI, the fanfared Olympics of the turf, blew a series of raspberries for the visitors at the start of the games. One by one hopes shrivelled in the Sunshine state.

Was it the weather which was affecting the visitors in this US v Europe challenge, a sort of riders' cup? Or was it the skill of the home-based trainers and jockeys? Whatever the reason, the Americans blew away most of Europe's best-known names.

France's Louve Mysterieuse was the first to succumb in the Distaff. She finished next to last, as did Aidan O'Brien's Warrior Queen in the Juvenile Fillies' race. "It was dirty out there," Michael Kinane said. At least we thought it was Kinane inside the pebble-dashed jockey's face.

O'Brien's Mull Of Kintyre was fourth in the Juvenile, but Kinane's greatest disappointment came aboard the fastest horse in Europe. Kinane has strapped himself to Stravinsky this year and let the rocket go and, once again, there was a surge yesterday, even if it did not last the whole journey of the Sprint. In the straight the peppered material of the colt's blinkers began to nod slowly up and down and we knew the game was up. Stravinsky struggled in sixth.

"He travelled really sweet, but, if anything, he showed too much speed early on and could not sustain it," Kinane reported. "Turning into the straight I thought he was going to do great things, but then it was still a great run for a three-year-old."

Docksider was a proud third in the Mile for John Hills, a race which Dettori and Lend A Hand looked like winning until three horses fell on him, like a hounds on a fox, in the shadow of the post. But Dettori was to have his time and when we remember Breeders' Cup XVI it will not be for 17 losers, but for one compelling, reputation-reviving win.