Racing: Freer-for-all over Dettori

Richard Edmondson reports on a trainer's determination to get the best out of Shantou
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The Independent Online
Frankie Dettori has taken the role, once again, of a Christmas cracker and it appears that John Gosden has pulled his way to the trinket of the jockey's booking. The Italian's services were required by both the Newmarket trainer and Godolphin for Saturday's Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury, but the special need of the former has swung the argument.

Gosden saddles Shantou, who runs like the wind for Dettori and runs like he's got wind for anyone else. In these circumstances, Godolphin are happy to let their shared contract rider fulfil the other half of his obligation with Gosden and his St Leger winner of last year.

Godolphin's runner is likely to be Predappio, who has an alternative engagement in Germany on Sunday. Their other entry, Classic Cliche, is destined for the Prix Kergorlay at Deauville, where he is likely to meet another of Saturday's defectors, Persian Punch. Others who have not cried off from Newbury yet number among them the Peter Chapple-Hyam pairing of Royal Court and Panama City. The 11 acceptors also include Strategic Choice (Paul Cole), Dushyantor (Henry Cecil), Further Flight (Barry Hills), Kutta (Robert Armstrong) and King Sound (Godsen).

Classic Cliche's next performance will determine whether he continues on his path to the Melbourne Cup, where he would be the first horse to transport the Godolphin Royal blue livery in Australia. The five-year- old played possum before finishing well into second behind Double Trigger in the Goodwood Cup last time, an effort that originally sickened connections. They feel better now.

"He's the ideal horse for the Melbourne job because he's shown he's got the speed for a mile and a half from his runs in King Georges," Simon Crisford, Godolphin's racing manager, said yesterday. "You need that over two miles in Australia, because the out-and-out stayers that go there are too slow.

"The horse's whole year has been campaigned towards that race and nothing has changed just because he was beaten at Goodwood. In fact, that wasn't such a bad run when you sit back and look at it. We fancied him very strongly going into the race because he had done so well since Royal Ascot. When you expect something to win like that and they get turned over maybe you should sit back for a couple of hours and think about it. We need to see how he runs this time."

There is confidence, too, behind Persian Punch for the Prix Kergorlay. Earlier this season the gelding had the sort of dreadful experience in the stalls that viewers of Bean, the Ultimate Disaster Movie are about to encounter. Now he also feels better. "At Ascot he had a hell of a problem in the stalls where he was very badly bashed so he was then short of work for Goodwood," Jeff Smith, Persian Punch's owner, said yesterday. "But David [Elsworth, the trainer] is pretty certain he's back, he's in good form and he will run well wherever he goes."

There are positive messages also emerging from the Godolphin repair shop about Swain, who captured a King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes which threatened to remove the fighting spirit of many of those who dragged themselves through the Ascot sludge. The signs are that he will be a formidable foe in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in early October.

"Amazingly the horse seemed to take the race very well," Crisford reported. "Sure it was a very hard race, but it was only his second outing of the season. He's not had an aggressive campaign and, in terms of condition, we couldn't be more pleased with him.

"He's been very lightly campaigned and the Arc will be only his fourth run of the year."

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