ITV Racing's Ed Chamberlin reflects on the top juvenile action at Newmarket before Frankie Dettori stole the show on Lord North ahead of his stab at history in Paris next weekend.
I’ve often said in this column how lucky we’ve been on ITV Racing with the stories just falling into the scriptwriter’s lap, but today I felt a little underwhelmed at Newmarket following the Juddmonte Middle Park Stakes.
A massive build up developed heading into this race because of three exciting colts at the top of the market, all of them unbeaten, with Earthlight, Mums Tipple and Siskin the trio in question.
But when Siskin was withdrawn at the start due to a nasty incident in the stalls – thankfully he looked okay afterwards – the gloss was taken off the contest and then the Mums Tipple bubble burst spectacularly as he was well beaten.
I felt for Ger Lyons having made the trip, something he doesn’t do too lightly, and the owners of Mums Tipple who had turned down seven-figure sums for their horse after his tremendous performance at York.
But you want the right horses to finish in the frame and Earthlight beat 16/1 and 100/1 shots, so I’m not sure he has. The form has a brittle look. But take nothing away from runner-up Golden Horde and Summer Sands who ran a huge race in third – all credit to Richard Fahey for having a go and getting a result.
Andre Fabre made it clear before the race that Earthlight wouldn’t be a natural for six furlongs. He clearly would’ve gone for the Dewhurst were it not for the looming presence of his owner-mate Pinatubo so it’ll be interesting to see what he does when he steps up in trip.
My ITV colleague Kevin Blake is adamant Earthlight will be a sprinter down the track. I tried to ensure messrs Blake and Fabre met up in the Frankel bar afterwards, but, alas, I failed. That conversation will have to wait for another day!
What an incredible trainer Monsieur Fabre is, though. He’s run 15 juveniles on the Rowley Mile in the last 30 years and nine of them have won – and you could argue it should be 10 as Tropbeau was a little unlucky in third earlier on the card in the Cheveley Park Stakes.
But that race went to Millisle for Jessica Harrington who is just having a stellar year, especially with her juvenile fillies.
She continues to show off her skills, from Group One two-year-old races to Cheltenham Gold Cups and she has to go down as the best dual-purpose trainer since David Elsworth was in his pomp.
The star performance over the two days that we covered on ITV was Benbatl’s five-length win in the Shadwell Joel Stakes on the Friday.
Wow. He was electric and I’d love to see this brilliant globetrotter go for the QEII Stakes over a mile on Champions Day rather than the Champion Stakes option over a quarter of a mile further.
The miling division needs shaking up and Benbatl could provide a real injection of quality.
But finally, Frankie. It’s always finally Frankie at the moment isn’t it?
I loved his cheekiness in the bet365 Cambridgeshire, the cosiest of wins for big gamble Lord North who, like Halling and Wissahickon before him, looked like a group horse winning what is meant to be one of the most competitive handicaps of the season - and as he liked.
I just sensed, however, both on The Opening Show and in the afternoon, with no flying dismount, that Dettori was a little bit subdued. Clearly, his mind is already switching to ParisLongchamp on Sunday week and who can blame him?
He’s nervous and tense already a week away from the big race. This opportunity for Enable win three Arcs, which has never been done before, would be an epic sporting achievement and he said himself on The Opening Show that he feels it’s akin to Steve Redgrave winning all those Olympic medals.
He also said: “It’s the Arc de Triomphe, it’s no gimme. All the best horses in Europe are going to take her on and it’s going to be hard fought. I know I’m on a great horse and I just hope everything goes well.
“She’s been incredible to me. Emotionally she has taken me to heights that no other horse has taken me. I do love her.
“Touch wood. Her preparation is going well. She’s done nothing wrong, as long as she keeps on winning we’re happy.”
You can tell how excited he is. The scenes of emotion in Paris next weekend could be spectacular.
This would be a sporting achievement right up there with the greats and I’m thrilled it’s live and free to air on ITV1, so that everyone can watch and enjoy Enable’s bid for equine sporting history next Sunday.
I can’t wait.