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Conduit: Stoute's long wait sealed with a kiss from Dettori

Conduit and Frankie Dettori run away with the 2008 St Leger
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First published on Friday, September 9, 2011

It was a victory sealed with a kiss, a sloppy smacker from the lips of Frankie Dettori. Judged by the unwilling recipient's reaction it seemed that Sir Michael Stoute rather wished his famous St Leger hoodoo had continued unbroken.

But the jinx was no more. A first success in the Classic that had for so long been elusive came with a sting to the tail – or more accurately a kiss to the cheek – but at least there would no longer be the annual debate about whether Stoute's latest Leger runner would be the animal capable of righting one of racing's most notable wrongs.

Conduit had not looked likely to be such an animal, not even to Stoute's stable jockey Ryan Moore, who discarded the workmanlike Gordon Stakes winner in favour of Doctor Fremantle.

Yet Conduit turned out to be the horse, the one to go one better than Stoute's five St Leger seconds – Hellenic, Saddlers' Hall, Air Marshall, Highest and Quiff. Where they had come up just short – and where Shergar had performed light years below his best – Conduit came up trumps, sprinting clear inside the final furlong for a memorable three-length triumph.

Dettori, who had already won the contest four times, was as ecstatic as if this was the first. He could remember what that first time had meant to him and knew that for Stoute its significance was many times multiplied.

Sir Michael Stoute and Frankie Dettori celebrate Conduit's success in the 2008 St Leger

After rattling through the long list of jockeys who had tried but failed to win a Leger for Stoute, Dettori turned to the trainer and asked for permission to hug.

"I don't want to do it in public – I'm not Italian," replied Stoute, but that was not going to stop Dettori, who unleashed a hug and a kiss.

Emotional creatures, these continentals. As Stoute prepares to watch Olivier Peslier steering Sea Moon tomorrow, he will be more on his guard.

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