Matt Brocklebank explores the likely final rides in Britain for Frankie Dettori at QIPCO British Champions Day on October 21.
The end is nigh for Frankie Dettori, who gave his all aboard Arrest on Saturday but will finish his glittering career with 23 British Classic victories, Chaldean and Soul Sister adding to that particular tally in this his final season in the saddle.
Dettori has still got plenty more sightseeing to do yet on this unprecedented, year-long farewell tour – including trips to America, Australia and Hong Kong before the end of 2023 – but on the domestic front thoughts now turn to Ascot, where he has almost become part of the very fabric of the place over the past 33 years.
His overall record at Ascot isn’t wildly appealing, having ridden 228 winners from a total 1509 rides (15%), and backing every single one over the years would have produced a loss of £86.61 to a £1 level stake. However, it’s the big days that really matter to racing’s ultimate showman, and they don’t get much greater than Champions Day, his last day in the limelight on home soil.
So what’s the book of rides looking like just under five weeks out?
Punters will be out in force looking to side with Frankie one final time at the scene of his Magnificent Seven in 1996, but you can just about guarantee the layers will understandably be keen to manage their liabilities on his rides after the declarations are made much closer to the time.
So, if you’re planning one last Dettori multiple at his home-from-home on October 21, then antepost might be the only way to get on. Let's consider the candidates...
This looks pretty cut-and-dried, a horse with whom Dettori has built a great association in recent seasons. Kinross justified 3/1 favouritism in this very race 12 months ago and has looked just as good with back-to-back Group 2 victories at Goowood and York during August.
An obvious chance for any multiple bet to get off to the best possible start.
The waters are a little murkier when it comes to the stayers, not just for Dettori but in the division as a whole at the moment. Kyprios has been made favourite by most firms following his pleasing comeback effort in the Irish St Leger, while Trueshan looked right back on song at Doncaster.
Courage Mon Ami, the Gold Cup winner in June, is the shortest of the Gosden-trained trio in the betting, but it sounds like the the Prix du Cadran (2m4f) might be his main autumn target and Thady Gosden appeared to leave the door ajar for Arrest to be tried over 2m when speaking to the media following his second to Continuous in Saturday's St Leger.
Sweet William clearly isn't Dettori's ride, connections staying loyal to Rab Havlin to this point, but he's a legitimate contender at least on the back of his creditable Doncaster Cup effort and perhaps Normandie Stud's Philippa Cooper might have a change of heart over riding plans if the situation arose.
I've already backed Arrest, but this one is clearly still in the balance.
Another race Dettori won last year and it's the returning hero Emily Upjohn who heads the market at 4/1 with a number of firms. She's got the small matter of the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe to come through first, though, and does tend to be at her best following more of a break between races.
Perhaps that brings Free Wind into calculations for this race. Her Yorkshire Oaks effort last time received a timely boost with the winner Warm Heart going in again in the Prix Vermeille on Arc 'trials day' and she clearly doesn't mind a bit of dig in the ground.
Free Wind has only been to Ascot once, when disappointing as the 6/4 favourite in this year's Hardwicke Stakes, but the ground was far too quick for her that day and she's still got potential to make the breakthrough at the top level having missed a good chunk of last season through injury.
Chaldean, not at his best when last seen in Deauville's Prix Jean Prat on July 9, is a potential dark horse here, but it'll take some training performance to get the 2000 Guineas winner back on track in a race of this nature following such a layoff.
Inspiral looks the far more likely of the pair having delivered in good style under Dettori when winning the Jacques le Marois last month. She's obviously been a bit of a tricky customer over the past couple of years but is deadly on her day and, with all eyes on the likely clash between Paddington and Tahiyra, Cheveley Park Stud's Inspiral is not one to be discounting in a hurry.
Dettori would be the first to admit that Mostahdaf is very much Jim Crowley's ride, but if the latter is unavailable again for some reason come Champions Day, then you'd imagine the Italian would be first in line given how well they gelled in the Juddmonte International at York last month.
I suppose there is also the faint possibility that Shadwell run both Mostahdaf and Alflaila, which could be quite interesting with Dettori in mind, but otherwise he'd be a fairly obvious fit for Sir Michael Stoute's reigning champ Bay Bridge.
Bay Bridge has primarily been Richard Kingscote's mount since he won the Champion Stakes on him last October, but Kingscote was jocked off Desert Crown (before that one was ultimately withdrawn) earlier this year and it's clear not much can be taken for granted when Frankie becomes available for a big race.
The other one who could be considered is Onesto who, like Emily Upjohn, is expected to run in the Arc next but might be better suited to a soft-ground Champion Stakes. Dettori didn't enjoy his finest hour on the French horse at Leopardstown recently but may get the chance to atone.
Onesto is sure to shorten from the current 25/1 if it becomes apparent there's a chance Dettori may keep the ride.
No entries and no antepost prices on the Balmoral Handicap, but Dettori's phone is likely to be red-hot when the time comes. It's a race he's never won, but he was second on Lord North in 2019 and John and Thady Gosden are bound to have something in mind for it.
Gosden's Sunray Major was sent off 2/1 favourite for the 2021 Balmoral (finished 14th) and there's every chance we could see something similar, depending on how the earlier races have panned out for the jockey.
After Frankie won the first four races at the Royal meeting in 2019, Turgenev went off 7/2 having been a huge price in the lead-up to the race, so getting the 'Gosden select' for the Balmoral on side early is likely to provide guaranteed value against the SP.
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