Frankie Dettori has already ridden his 20th and 21st English Classic winners this year and he ended the second day of the Leger meeting here on Thursday with live contenders for two more. The most immediate is High Definition, the second-favourite for Saturday’s St Leger, but the more exciting prospect, perhaps, is Inspiral, the clear favourite for the 1,000 Guineas next May after her extending her unbeaten record to three races in the Group Two May Hill Stakes.
It was one of those days for Dettori, who went on to complete a Group Two double on Free Wind in the Park Hill Stakes after powering nearly four lengths clear of the runner-up on Inspiral. John and Thady Gosden’s filly, a daughter of Frankel, is now 5-4 favourite (from 2-1) for the Group One Fillies’ Mile at Newmarket next month, and favourite too, at around 6-1, for the Oaks at Epsom next June.
“It was a bit messy as the first two furlongs were slow,” Dettori said. “She had to learn today to follow a slow pace and then quicken, which isn’t her style.
“She’s a work in progress and I think she’ll be better next year when she strengthens up, at the moment she’s all frame. I think [the Fillies’ Mile] is where we should go and then she’s got all winter to strengthen up. Potentially, she’s a Guineas horse.”
With the Queen’s fast-improving two-year-old colt Reach For The Moon stepping up to Group Two company in Saturday’s Champagne Stakes, this does not promise to be a winter when retirement is prominent in Dettori’s thoughts. He will celebrate his 51st birthday a fortnight before Christmas, but as he pointed out after winning the 1,000 Guineas on Mother Earth in May, Lester Piggott rode the last of his 30 Classic winners at 56.
Dettori will aim to take his total to 22 aboard High Definition on Saturday, when victory would give him a third English Classic in the same season for the first time in his career.
O’Brien’s colt was the winter favourite for the Derby after two wins from as many starts as a two-year-old, but has been beaten in all three of his races this season, including when only sixth of eight runners in the Great Voltigeur Stakes at York last month. He will race in cheekpieces for the first time on Saturday.
“He was the Derby favourite for six months,” Dettori said. “He’s kind of the forgotten horse but his Dante run wasn’t too bad, he was two lengths behind the [Leger] favourite [Hurricane Run] over a mile-and-a-quarter and he’ll relish the extra distance.”
High Definition is one of four Aidan O’Brien-trained runners in the 10-strong Leger field, alongside Interpretation, who will be Hollie Doyle’s first ride in the Classic, Sir Lucan (James Doyle) and The Mediterranean (Wayne Lordan).
Free Wind looks likely to be a leading contender for the Group One Fillies & Mares race on Champions Day in October after dismantling her field in the Park Hill, while Dettori will be centre stage once again on Friday as he rides Stradivarius, the favourite, in the Doncaster Cup.
“He got a tremendous reception at York [and] he’ll probably get one at Doncaster,” Dettori said. “He’s not going to be here forever, so let’s enjoy him. He’s done so much for the sport. Let’s hope he does the business.”
Dettori ended the day by completing a near 15-1 treble on the card for John and Thady Gosden when he executed a brilliant front-running ride on Harrovian and edged out old rival Ryan Moore on Sinjaari in a thrilling finish to the Hilton Garden Inn Conditions Stakes.
Stradivarius and Trueshan have done plenty of feinting this summer but have still not come to blows, with one or the other having been a last-minute scratch from three races so far due to concerns about the ground.
With less rain than Trueshan’s connections hoped to see having arrived at Town Moor, Friday’s scheduled head-to-head in the Group Two Doncaster Cup could yet go the same way.
Even if Trueshan goes to post, however, the going is unlikely to be soft enough for him to produce his best form, leaving the way clear for Stradivarius (2.40) to register an eighth win from nine starts in Yorkshire.
Doncaster 1.40 First-time juvenile winners are a rarity for Marcus Tregoning – just four from 150 starts since 2010 – so Ribhi’s polished success on debut at Salisbury last month seems likely to have been achieved with plenty still left to build on. He quickened impressively to go nearly three lengths clear in a decent time and looks the value here at around 5-1.
Doncaster 2.10 Armor showed impressive speed to go clear in the Molecomb at Glorious Goodwood and did not quite see it out when stepping up to six furlongs in a Group One at Deauville last time. Rain-softened ground may have exaggerated the winning margin at Goodwood but that is still the best form on offer and he will be hard to beat dropping in trip and grade.
Doncaster 3.15 Rhythmic Intent was taken out of the Old Borough Cup at Haydock on Saturday due to “unsuitable” good-to-firm ground, but Stuart Williams’s runner has form on a sound surface and looked to be coming back to his best at York in August. Hollie Doyle, who rode him for the first time there, is back in the saddle and 10-1 is a fair price with Nuits St Georges and Speedo Boy likely to ensure that Rhythmic Intent gets an even pace to chase.
Doncaster 3.45 Asjad surrendered his unbeaten record when finishing a head behind today’s rival Dear Doctor at Ffos Las last month, but that was a three-runner race and the winner got a well-judged ride from the front. On 1lb better terms, Roger Varian’s colt is worth backing to reverse the form at around 9-2.