The body may be older but the familiar beaming smile was just as evident as ever, when the indomitable Frankie Dettori celebrated victory on Golden Horn at the Epsom Derby yesterday. The 13-8 favourite was clinically ridden by the popular Italian to a comprehensive three-and-a-half length winning margin, surging past Jack Hobbs in the closing stages. Trainer John Gosden was able to toast a one-two, with Storm The Stars taking third place.
Dettori has had his fair share of trials and tribulations in recent years, but victory in the Derby was "unbelievable" according to the 44-year-old rider. On crossing the line he exuberantly punched the air in triumph and treated the elegantly turned out assembly to his trademark dismount, flying from the saddle from the much-coveted winner's enclosure.
Comeback for Dettori
The winning jockey was full of praise for his nimble mount, stating that "the horse was brilliant" when interviewed afterwards, no doubt also relieved that his mount had lasted the challenging mile-and-a-half distance so well. No less than the ride he gave Golden Horn, with the celebrity jockey competing in the Derby for the first time since his six-month ban for taking drugs (cocaine) two years ago. Many had doubted whether he would return to his best form, after struggling initially for success on his comeback to the sport.
Italian's second success
The victory was only the Italian's second success in the prestigious race after 20 attempts, backing up his previous triumph on Authorized in 2007. He timed his push for the line expertly, with the winner surging well clear as the field entered the last furlong. Although Golden Horn edged towards the rail as the finishing line approached, there was no suggestion of interference with the second horse, with the gap already sizeable between the two by then.
Early on the pace had been set by Hans Holbein and Elm Park, but Jack Hobbs pushed to the front with the first concerted effort for victory. Frankie found room out wide for Golden Horn to time the effort even better and race past the stablemate, maintaining the horse's unbeaten record.
Jack Hobbs (named after the famous English cricketer) ridden by William Buick was second for Godolphin, Dettori's previous employers. The American challenger Storm The Stars completed the first three.
The first four horses past the post were:
Golden Horn (Frankie Dettori) 13-8
Jack Hobbs (William Buick) 4-1
Storm The Stars (Pat Cosgrave) 16-1
Giovanni Canaletto (Ryan Moore) 6-1
The winning owner was just as delighted as Dettori, Anthony Oppenheimer being rewarded with a massive prize of £800,000 after his late decision to enter the horse in the Derby. How glad he must have been in hindsight, ensuring that his horse takes its place alongside historic winners of the past such as Nijinsky, The Minstrel and of course Shergar.
With the #Queen and Prince Phillip in attendance, it was very much a regal occasion at Epsom with a full card of equestrian excellence to entertain the spectators. Top hats and colourful outfits were very much the order of the day, as the racing public came out in their thousands on one of the biggest days on the sporting calendar and for bookmakers up and down the land. #Animals