Racing: Tara tops Dettori's treble

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WHEN a sportsman's prize is sponsored by London Clubs, the easy assumption is that the winner will be a footballer and the awards ceremony will be staged at about 4am.

It was at about 4pm yesterday, however, when Frankie Dettori confirmed he would be the winner of the London Clubs Trophy for leading jockey at the Royal meeting. Timing was a most significant part of his Gold Cup association with Kayf Tara.

The way Dettori threw his arms about after this win might have sent Grace Darling to the boathouse, but then it meant more than just a Group One success to racing's most shining figure. Two weeks ago some had charged him with riding negligence when he was narrowly beaten in the Oaks on Bahr.

That filly was a most emphatic winner in yesterday's Ribblesdale Stakes, but it was Kayf Tara's win that most cheered Frankie. It showed that when it comes to tactics there is more to the man than Brylcreem and a piano smile.

The creaking figure of Double Trigger was the first to lead the contest, but when Clerkenwell took over passing the glum canopy of umbrellas, raincoats and wet feathers in the straight it appeared the old boy's connection with this field and racing as a whole had come to an end. By Swinley Bottom, however, the veteran had thrown away his crutches and was back in front.

All this time, Dettori was taking an orienteer's route, close to the rhododendrons on the outside of the course. He was forfeiting ground but saving Kayf Tara's reserves as the steel blades were crashing together at the head of the battle. "There looked to be a lot of pace in the race and my horse had never run this far so I thought he had not proved enough to go and race with them," the jockey said. "So I wanted them to kill themselves up front.

"Over two and a half miles the important thing is to keep a rhythm, spend as little energy as possible and try not to let your horse lose his balance, even if he keeps going wide."

Kayf Tara's surge came late and decisively as the caravan struggled into the straight. He was magnetised towards the leader, in the manner that all tired horses are, but still possessed the reserves to stride out for a neck victory over Double Trigger. "Full credit to Kayf Tara," Dettori said, "because he had to battle really hard in the final furlong. Double Trigger came back twice at me."

There was a little sadness that the old chestnut was reeled in, but he survives to fight another day. The same cannot be said for the Irish mare French Ballerina, who fractured an off-hind in the skirmishes. She had to be destroyed.

The favourite, Persian Punch, finished fifth, and David Elsworth blamed himself for instructing his jockey, John Reid, to be the final arrival on the scene. The big horse stayed on too slowly and too late.

Dettori once again did his Group One dismount and today he will again be doing his London Club's acceptance speech. A further success on Rhapsodist took his total to six winners at the meeting.

Double Classic's last-race win was yet another pot for Dettori's great providers, the Maktoum family, their ninth of the meeting. That total suggests they are not quite as overpowering an influence in British racing as many assume as someone must have won the other half of Royal Ascot's contests. "Long races can be great races, seeing these big-hearted horses coming down the straight and fighting all the way to the line," Sheikh Mohammed said after the Gold Cup. "It's nice to see the older horses staying in training."

For those who think the tentacles of the Sheikh and his family are squeezing too tightly on the game, the crown prince had a message. "Last year we were down there," he said, pointing to the wet dress shoes in the winners' enclosure. This season, however, the fortunes are up where the rain came from."