Quite right, Bart. That wasn't worth two bob. Actually it was priceless. But then it was not just the reputation of thoroughbreds in the Old World – notoriously disparaged by Bart Cummings, his previous trainer – that was upheld here yesterday by a sens-ational defeat for So You Think, the imported Australian superstar. This was also an expressive rejoinder from a jockey who has dominated the European Turf, and these acres in particular, for many years. Even in his moment of vindication, however, Frankie Dettori contrived to cast new light on his present insecurities.
Dettori's celebrations, after Rewilding had worn down So You Think in the Prince of Wales's Stakes, had been literally pointed. As he roared at the stands, he inverted his index finger and jabbed his chest. This was not just about his patrons at Godolphin, celebrating a first Group One success at this meeting since 2007. Nearly 15 years after the Magnificent Seven, it looked much more personal than that.
For it seemed impossible not to link Dettori's gesticulations and those of Mickaël Barzalona in winning the Derby, 11 days previously. The French teenager had already been fast-tracked as Dettori's understudy, at Godolphin; and his Epsom success had seemed to confirm him as an obvious heir.
Dettori's performance was clearly intended to show that Barzalona may have to wait a while yet. It also disclosed a touch of desperation. He was so remorseless with the whip – reckoned to have hit Rewilding no fewer than 24 times – that the stewards gave him a nine-day ban. At all costs, he seemed intent on reminding Barzalona that one swallow does not make a summer.
Nor, it must be said, do the sort of grey, moist skies that loomed over the royal forest. Conditions underfoot, however, remained pretty fast by the time So You Think swaggered on to the track, everything about him suggestive of substance – except, that is, for microscopic odds of 4-11. His shoulder might have been borrowed from a dreadnought, and then there was that giant, intimidating stride. Cummings had not even bothered to watch his first races for Aidan O'Brien, mocking the calibre of opposition. This time, however, the old boy would be given something worth staying up for.
True, just as Frankel's pacemaker had set off at a ludicrous rate the previous day, so Jan Vermeer offered little to the Ballydoyle cause. After initially missing the break, leaving So You Think to race freely without cover, Jan Vermeer was rushed into a clear lead before emptying rapidly turning in. Only now, as Ryan Moore kicked on the favourite, did Dettori urge his mount forward. Though dropping in trip, he had restrained Rewilding in last and could now call on the reserve fuel tank. Game and relentless, Rewilding got up close home to win by a neck, the pair six lengths clear of Sri Putra.
It felt just like old times to see Dettori, in the Godolphin blue, duelling with one of Ballydoyle's most precious stallion prospects. We have not seen enough of this in recent years, but credit is due to the Godolphin team for regrouping. Rewilding represents two positive responses of their own devising: groomed by André Fabre, he was then transferred to the care of Mahmood Al Zarooni, who was promoted to supervise his own yard last year.
Formerly assistant to Saeed Bin Suroor, Al Zarooni was eager to stress the personal involvement of their boss, Sheikh Mohammed, in the preparation of Rewilding. Al Zarooni had recently saddled his first Classic winner, Blue Bunting, in the 1,000 Guineas. It was in neglecting to ride out that filly for third in the Oaks, however, that Dettori had picked up the ten-day suspension that starts tomorrow and allows Barzalona to ride Delegator for Bin Suroor on Saturday. And now, thanks to his excesses on Rewilding, he will have that "holiday" extended.
Yet Dettori still commended yesterday's spectacle as a perfect advertisement for the sport. "It's sheer joy when you see two great horses battle it out like that," he said. "Godolphin and Ballydoyle are two great teams and we put our life and soul into the job. This is what we're here for – to have these kind of finishes, in great races like this."
Though Rewilding confirmed here that he is best fresh, he is likely to return next month for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes. As for So You Think, O'Brien mentioned the Coral Eclipse Stakes as a possible target. "It was more my fault than anyone else's that he got beaten," he insisted. "He had a heavy blow afterwards. I just didn't have him fit enough. He does a demolition job at home and maybe he needed to have done a bit extra, because he has such a capacity for work."
And whatever Cummings may think, it is clear they don't just give away prizes here. Hats off, then, to those who enjoyed a maiden meeting success: Walter Swinburn, Tom Dascombe and Tommy Stack, as trainers, and Richard Kingscote and Wayne Lordan as jockeys. The two other races were shared by old hands, in Richards Hannon and Hughes, but were no less precious.Reuse content