Sheer class in a racehorse is an admirable asset, but don't underestimate the toughs of the track. Ramonti put the seal here yesterday on his status as the season's champion miler, but his title has been won not by runaway brilliance, but by consistency and fortitude. His record this term now reads five Group One runs, three wins, two seconds. "You could set your clock by him," said his rider Frankie Dettori.
The Queen Elizabeth II Stakes was a typical bruising points victory for the big brown streetfighter, who has carried the Godolphin banner at the highest level single-handedly this year. After powering to the lead at the head of the short straight, he repelled the 15-8 favourite Excellent Art by a diminishing half-a-length, with the other Ballydoyle challenger, trailblazing Duke Of Marmalade, close up third.
"There's nowhere to hide here," said Dettori. "It's one of the stiffest miles there is. I knew I had to take the fight to them so I got to work more than two furlongs out. In the straight I could hear the whips cracking behind and the crowd roaring in front, but I knew that if they were using their legs to get to me he'd grind it out. He's a horse who is very hard to get past."
It was Dettori's fourth success in the final round of the European miling circuit, on a course he loves and excels at, and his first since he won on Dubai Millennium, a horse who was truly brilliant.
Five-year-old Ramonti, who joined the blues' squad at the start of the year, beat Excellent Art a head in the Sussex Stakes, and Jeremy a short-head in the Queen Anne Stakes. The only two to finish in front of him have been Red Evie in the Lockinge Stakes and Darjina, a sorry flop in last place yesterday. Christophe Soumillon, the French filly's rider, blamed the rain-eased ground.
Ramonti, who will remain in training next year, is unlikely to go to next month's Breeders' Cup meeting in New Jersey. "We wondered whether this might have been one dance too many," said Godolphin's racing manager Simon Crisford, "but he makes up for everything in the determination department."
The youngest generation had its say earlier, most notably O'Brien's Listen. The daughter of Sadler's Wells laid out her credentials loud and clear for next year's Classics by disposing of hitherto unbeaten French starlet Proviso and dual top-level winner Saoirse Abu in the Fillies' Mile under Johnny Murtagh. She now heads the market in some lists for the 1,000 Guineas, and all for the Oaks.
The André Fabre-trained Proviso, the 11-10 favourite, came here with a mighty reputation, but did her rider Stéphane Pasquier no favours by missing the break and then, bustled up, running with the choke out for a furlong. Her unhappy run continued when she was denied a route through the pack – for which Pasquier considered Murtagh largely to blame – and had made her challenge wide.
But despite her problems, she was probably close enough if good enough, and yesterday – and perhaps any day – Listen was simply better. Never worse than fourth as outsider Kay Es Jay and Saoirse Abu cut out a true pace, she quickened on demand through the penultimate furlong and stayed on strongly to repel Proviso by a length.
"The plan was to take the speed out of the French filly in the straight," said Murtagh, "and once she got to the front I thought it would take a good one to get to her."
The Irishman produced a top-class display of judgement in the following handicap, scraping home on 50-1 shot Candidato Roy after making all the running close to the stand side rail. "When I walked the course there looked a lovely strip there, faster than the rest."
In the Royal Lodge Stakes, a set of once much-more-famous colours was back on a potentially high-class performer. City Leader, in the Sangster silks, scrambled home in a tight finish, but deserves more credit for his success than the three-quarter length margin from Achill Island implies, for he was running with a leather rein in his mouth after the bridle slipped round his head. The Brian Meehan-trained colt is now bound for the Racing Post Trophy,Reuse content