Two jockeys with a combined age of 104 win the 1000 and 2000 Guineas, and it’s a 20th Classic for Frankie Dettori
THE domestic Flat season may not quite have burst into life at the weekend in the shape of a superstar Guineas winner but, on Sunday, Newmarket’s Rowley Mile, empty except for a handful of owners, at least echoed to the whoops of a victorious Frankie Dettori.
In what was a theme of the weekend, both in Britain and America, there was no substitute for experience; Dettori, 50, won the 1000 Guineas a day after Kevin Manning, 54, took the 2000 Guineas on Poetic Flare for Jim Bolger, who will be 80 on Christmas Day, while the Kentucky Derby was won by Johnny Velazquez, 49, on Medina Spirit.
The oldest jockey to have won a Classic is Lester Piggott, who was 56 when he won the 2000 Guineas on Rodrigo De Triano in 1992.
Victory for Mother Earth, a Zoffany filly and Aidan O’Brien’s de facto second string in the race behind the once-raced Santa Barbara, was pretty smooth.
Dettori held her up, sent her on from the top of the hill, and came home a cosy length ahead of Jane Chapple-Hyam’s Saffron Beach and Richard Fahey’s gritty Fev Rover. The inexperienced Santa Barbara was fourth with the joint-favourite Alcohol Free not far away in fifth.
“I was super-excited to win that!” said Dettori (stating the obvious). “I didn’t have the pressure to ride the favourite and had a very willing partner who I knew would give me everything.
“Aidan gave me a lot of confidence this morning and said to forget about Santa Barbara and just ride my own race. He told me to get cover and I did; I forgot about the favourite and just kicked at the top of the hill.
“I knew she’d stay really well and I won – it’s as simple as that! It’s my 20th Classic [in Britain] at 50. I’m only 10 behind Lester now so I’ve got plenty of time!
“It’s great to do it at Newmarket. I’m extremely happy and I got lucky to get that ride. Lester was 56 so I’ve got six years left and Kevin won yesterday which makes me feel young – come on the oldies!”
Aidan O’Brien has now won five of the last six Guineas – a run broken only by Richard Hannon and Billesdon Brook.
“Mother Earth is a very good filly and always was,” he said. “It was unfair to the favourite [Santa Barbara] to come but we had to come with the view to coming back over here for the Oaks.
“Santa Barbara is only a baby. She was just green in the dip, but after having one easy run it was a great run.
“Mother Earth is a very consistent filly – she had a great run in America last time out last year and that was very professional. Mother Earth will stick to a mile and we’ll step Santa Barbara up in trip – the latter was always going to go to the Oaks next time and this filly was always going to go to the Irish Guineas next. That was the plan.
“We won’t go again with Santa Barbara before Epsom. We felt that she would learn as much coming here as she would for three runs, but it was a risk doing it that she was going to get beaten.”
A RENAISSANCE FOR BOLGER
WHILE some trainers have spells when they are out of form for weeks, months or even seasons, O’Brien’s period in the doldrums lasted a day. His three runners in the 2000 Guineas finished down the field and if this year’s Classic was memorable for Ballydoyle it was for the fact that it was the first time since 2000 the stable did not have a placed runner.
Three horses had begun to draw clear hitting the rising ground – Poetic Flare, Charlie Appleby’s Master Of The Seas and Jessica Harrington’s Lucky Vega. Through most of the last half furlong Master Of The Seas seemed to have a narrow advantage, but Poetic Flare came back at him and it was on the nod, a short-head in the Irish colt’s favour with Lucky Vega a neck back in third.
The impression was that there was not much between them, and had you run the race another day they might have finished in a different order. At the moment it would appear that an average pool of two-year-olds has not suddenly thrown up an outstanding three-year-old.
Nevertheless, a Classic is a Classic no matter how narrow the margin of victory and that in no way diminished the achievement of the remarkable Bolger and his son-in-law Manning.
A lot of people are in nursing homes at Bolger’s age but, having had a relatively quiet couple of years since Poetic Flare’s sire, Dawn Approach (by his Derby winner New Approach) won the race in 2013, he is having a renaissance – back home he still has to unleash Mac Swiney, the Vertem Futurity winner.
“I thought he was beaten! It’s a big day for us, right up there with the best we’ve had,” said Bolger. “Poetic Flare wasn’t ready for the Dewhurst last year. I thought he was a little bit fitter than he was and I was hoping he’d run a big race and get the experience of running at that level. He ran out of wind about a furlong and a half down but we were very pleased in the run and didn’t lose faith in him.”
Asked if he might now run in the Irish 2000 Guineas, Bolger added: “I’m not sure – there’s nothing between him and Mac Swiney so it’s going to be a very hard call.
“At the moment I’m not thinking about going anywhere except the mile. He has buckets of speed and I even entered him in the Commonwealth Cup in the unlikely event that he
didn’t stay, as he’s that quick and you always have some doubts about whether the very quick ones will stay or not. The St James’s Palace would definitely be on the cards.
“It’s a wonderful day. In our case it’s fairly necessary with the way I do things! It very much carries on that Dawn Approach line, and I have two half-sisters of Poetic Flare as well.”
This report can also be read in this week’s Horse & Hound magazine, on sale Thursday 6 May
You may also be interested in…
Horses competing in the Melbourne Cup will all be required to have CT scans of their legs prior to running
The QIPCO British Champions Series Hall of Fame has been launched to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of the series, and
Harry Skelton joins an illustrious roll of honour, joined for the occasion by his trainer brother Dan, jockey wife Bridget