Farhh's breakthrough cheers Godolphin
Sunday 19 May 2013
Frankie Dettori may remain in bureaucratic limbo, instead of ending his ban at Leicester this evening, but it was a weekend of inspiring comebacks all the same.
First there was Farhh, the horse Dettori was riding at Longchamp the day he failed that fateful drugs test last September, who ran for the first time since, at Newbury on Saturday. Having bumped into Frankel on a couple of occasions last season, Farhh made his Group One breakthrough with an impressive success in the JLT Lockinge Stakes – and so relieved the pressure on Dettori's former employers at Godolphin, still reeling from the disgrace of Mahmood Al Zarooni. This was a fifth Lockinge success for Saeed Bin Suroor.
Then there was Gary Stevens, who crowned his recent return from a seven-year retirement with a fairytale success in the Preakness Stakes for another of the great modern achievers of the American Turf, Wayne Lukas. Oxbow's success in its second leg prolongs the wait for a first Triple Crown winner since 1978, Orb having managed no better than fourth in his bid to follow up his Kentucky Derby win.
Stevens, 50, sealed his ninth Triple Crown prize with a wily ride from the front, artfully controlling the pace for the slowest winning time since 1961. "When we hit the half-mile pole, I said: 'Are you kidding me? Is this happening?'" Stevens said. "The race was over at that point. I just walked the dog to the half-mile pole."
It was the 14th Triple Crown race win for Lukas, 77, but his first since 2000. He admitted that it had not been the plan to make the running. "I think I got a Hall of Fame ride," he said.
And yesterday it was the turn of Telescope to come back in from the cold. Scratched from many Investec Derby books after missing his scheduled trial at York last week, the colt is inching his way back into Epsom contention and impressed witnesses of a gallop in Newmarket.
Worked the wrong way round the Limekilns, to accustom him to racing on a left-hand turn, Telescope pulled as many as 30 lengths clear of an older escort.
Sir Michael Stoute, his trainer, could now take the inexperienced colt away for some work over a track.
Telescope runs for one of the Highclere syndicates managed by Harry Herbert, who described Sir Michael as "very pleased" by Telescope's progress since sustaining a couple of grazed legs.
"We'll just see how he is before we move on to the next step," Herbert stressed. "If he comes through this OK, we'll take him to Lingfield on Wednesday where he will have his racecourse gallop.
"As long as Sir Michael is happy with him tonight and tomorrow morning, that will be the plan. As if there is not enough pressure surrounding a British Derby candidate, this has just added to the stress of it all really.
"There's still a chance he could make the Derby, but we'll just take it day by day."
Andrea Atzeni, one of the rising stars of the weighing room, yesterday enjoyed a breakthrough Derby success in the Italian version on Biz The Nurse. It was also a remarkable day for the Botti clan, this time through Stefano, who saddled the first three home.
Another Italian, Dettori, however, remains "devastated and bewildered" by the 11th-hour hitch in the processing of his French jockey's licence.
Dettori's lawyers are urging the British Horseracing Authority to unravel the red tape in Paris, the issue of its own licence being contingent on reciprocal arrangements. But today is a public holiday in France.
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