Weight of history on Authorized but Frankie can pull off classic triumph - Racing - Sport - The Independent

Weight of history on Authorized but Frankie can pull off classic triumph

Backroom boys such as 'test driver' Adrian McCarthy can help Dettori land Europe's greatest middle-distance prize. By Sue Montgomery

Should Authorized win the 86th Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe today, Frankie Dettori and Peter Chapple-Hyam will enthusiastically, but graciously, receive the plaudits that are their due. And, because behind every superb individual performance on the racecourse lies a team effort, both will rightly deflect praise to the backroom boys. To men like Alex Cairns, head lad at Chapple-Hyam's St Gatien stables in Newmarket; like Noel O'Connor, Authorized's devoted personal valet; like "roadie" Ronan Meehan, who oversees the travelling and has been in France since Thursday.

And like Adrian McCarthy, who has done the fine-tuning for Dettori. At home, O'Connor rides Authorized at exercise, the routine daily leg-stretch; McCarthy is in the saddle on work mornings, when the serious business gets done, when pressure is applied, when the horse gets to learn about racing and the trainer gets to learn about the horse. In Formula One terms, McCarthy is the test driver. And no flying dismounts.

A good work-rider, who knows what he is feeling and can give intelligent feedback, is essential to any trainer. Last season, when Authorized was no more than a highly promising juvenile, O'Connor did the job. This year, as a genuine Classic contender, the more experienced McCarthy took over the responsibility of the putative star's education and has felt the colt grow and develop under him, month by month, physically and mentally.

"Noel told me he was a good one," he said, "but to start with he didn't give me the impression that he'd be outstanding. He'd always work the same, he'd go past his lead horse easily but then feel he'd done enough, and not do much more. He was babyish, lazy, a bit dumb. Yes, as time went on he got better, but even before the Derby he was a bit like that. Immature. So it just shows how good he is to have won the Derby like he did."

Authorized romped home by five lengths at Epsom, experienced his first three-year-old reverse at the hands of the cannily ridden Notnowcato in the Eclipse Stakes, and bounced back with an authoritative defeat of top-class Dylan Thomas in the York International. With every race, he has become more streetwise, and more aware of his capabilities and status.

"Horses start to know that they're good," said McCarthy. "It's a confidence thing. He used to be quiet in his box when I'd saddle him up. Now he's there waiting at the door, and he tries to eat you. He's grown up; he understands life a bit more, he's fitter, he's developed muscles and grown into his big frame. He's not a boy any more, he's a man."

Authorized has inherited the imposing physique of his sire, Montjeu, and much of his talent but, happily, none of his quirks. "Like a lot of Montjeus he goes along with his head up, and you've got plenty of horse in front of you," said McCarthy. "Even at the walk, you can feel his massive stride, almost pulling you along. But he's straightforward. You ask him to do something, he'll do it, no arguments."

It is in the past month that McCarthy has felt the most marked change in the powerful bay. "One morning on the Limekilns," he said, "he started really tugging at me, so much so that I had to let him go sooner than I'd wanted. And then last Tuesday, in his last bit of work, what he gave me was the best he's ever given me.

"I pulled him out from behind his lead horse and he went six lengths clear and kept going. I didn't have to change my hands and get hold of him, just gave him a squeeze. He has such a high cruising speed and when he quickens he does it by lengthening. You can feel it, he seems to get longer and lower and suddenly you're going faster."

Catterick-born McCarthy, 28, travelled the world with his army family – he learned to ride in Germany – before finding a base in Newmarket, a graduate of the racing school there. He is not just a work-rider; he is a jockey, with nine winners to his credit this year, though most of his rides tend to be lowly beasts making up the numbers.

"Not many riders, champion jockeys or not, will know what it feels like to ride one as good as Authorized, and I don't suppose I'll be lucky enough to again," he said. "But to sit on one like him in the morning simply makes your day."

As well as Dettori, Authorized will carry the weight of history this afternoon. Of the 19 Derby winners to have contested the Arc as three-year-olds before today, only Sea-Bird, Mill Reef, Lammtarra and Sinndar have succeeded. Six others – Santa Claus, Sir Ivor, Nijinsky, Troy, Shahrastani and High Chaparral – have finished in the money. Most, as Authorized will do, have started favourite.

Chapple-Hyam's previous Epsom hero, Dr Devious, finished sixth but this one is a much better horse. And perhaps the race owes the trainer one. Of his other runners, White Muzzle was unlucky twice, and Polaris Flight was fatally injured. Authorized can redress the balance to give Dettori Europe's greatest middle-distance prize for a fourth time.

Today's 12-strong line-up – four from France, four from Ireland, three from Britain and one from Germany – is one of the smallest in the modern era. The four Irish raiders are all from one yard, that of Aidan O'Brien. His challenge is led by the two Irish Derby winners, this year's victor Soldier Of Fortune and four-year-old Dylan Thomas, trying for the first King George-Arc double since Lammtarra 12 years ago.

As far as the betting indicates, the home side's defence will be led by Zambezi Sun. The only filly in the field is Mandesha and although the Arc has been won 16 times by a female, the last to do so was Urban Sea 14 years ago. But since then several of the sisterhood have knocked on the door, and course-and-distance winner Mandesha makes each-way appeal.

Derby winners in the Arc

First: Relko, 1963

After winning the Derby by six lengths, and controversially keeping it after failing a dope test, Relko started 9-10 favourite for the first tape-started Arc. Sadly, he was greeted by jeers as he finished in only sixth place.

Best: Sea-Bird, 1965

Probably the best horse ever to race in Europe and one of the few to win a Derby on the bridle, the 12-10 favourite produced a devastating solo tour de force to win his Arc.

Shock: Nijinsky 1970

At 4-10, Nijinsky was not the hottest losing Arc favourite – that was 1-10 shot Ardan in 1945 – but his head defeat by Sassafras, the first of his career, is the upset that sticks in the mind.

Unique: Mill Reef 1971

Mill Reef became the first, and still only, horse to complete the great middle-distance four-timer of the Derby, Eclipse Stakes, King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes and the Arc. At Longchamp he justified his 7-10 starting price with a scintillating three-length win.

Watch the Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe on BBC2 at 3.40pm. Full coverage starts at 12.30pm

Life and Style
tech
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
News
The ecological reconstruction of Ikrandraco avatar is shown in this illustration courtesy of Chuang Zhao. Scientists on September 11, 2014 announced the discovery of fossils in China of a type of flying reptile called a pterosaur that lived 120 millions years ago and so closely resembled those creatures from the 2009 film, Avatar that they named it after them.
SCIENCE
Life and Style
tech
Arts and Entertainment
Matisse: The Cut-Outs exhibition attracted 562,000 visitors to the Tate Modern from April to September
art
Life and Style
Models walk the runway at the Tom Ford show during London Fashion Week Spring Summer 2015
fashionLondon Fashion Week 2014
News
Kenny G
news
News
peopleThe black actress has claimed police mistook her for a prostitute when she kissed her white husband
Life and Style
techIndian model comes with cricket scores baked in
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Officer (HMP Brixton Mentoring Project)

£24,000 per annum pro rata (21 hours per week): Belong: Work as part of a cutt...

Looking for work in Secondary Schools?

£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Are you looking for work in Ed...

Year 5 Teacher

£3000 - £30000 per annum: Randstad Education Chelmsford: Would you like to wor...

Open Day for work in Education

£83 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Are you looking for work in Ed...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week