Atzeni lands fantastic four-timer and a nice smacker from Frankie
In the weighing room, shortly before the Qatar Goodwood Cup prizes were handed out, one Sardinian walked over to another Sardinian. Then Frankie Dettori gave Andrea Atzeni a gentle smack on the cheek, followed by a kiss on the cheek he had just smacked.
If either the smack or the kiss left a mark, it would have been only a mark of respect.
Dettori knows a fine ride when he sees one. From the back of Big Orange he saw one, the star performance having come from Atzeni, who wisely kept Stradivarius wide of the supremely game Big Orange when delivering what proved to be a winning challenge.
This, though, was a day when Atzeni did a lot of winning.
All three of the festival's opening Group races belonged to him, with the victories of Expert Eye, Breton Rock and Stradivarius being followed by Shenanigans' handicap strike in the finale, the four-timer paying a massive 8,343-1.
Even so, it was his opening-race fourth on Uae Prince, owned by main employer Sheikh Mohammed Obaid, that remained at the front of his mind.
"It's been a good day but I'm still a bit upset about the first race," said Atzeni.
"I wish I had won that one for the boss. If the first race had been the last race I would have won on him. It's all about confidence."
Through the closing stages of the Goodwood Cup, his confidence in Stradivarius must have been considerable.
"The main plan was not to go near Big Orange," said Atzeni. "You can't go near him as he's a fighter. Going to the two pole I knew I had plenty of horse underneath me and I could see Big Orange wasn't going away, so I thought I had him.
"I don't think my fella knows how good he is yet. He's still learning, mentally immature and raw. I don't think he even knows he's a racehorse. He could be anything, especially next year."
If this year carries on the way this week has started, Atzeni will be happy.
"I'm in a great position," he said. "When I'm not riding for Sheikh Mohammed Obaid and Roger Varian I'm fortunate to get good spares from Sir Michael and Mr Gosden. I'm very lucky."
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