Whoosh! Dettori reaching for superlatives as Palace Pier powers home
At the age of 50 and after a glittering career, Frankie Dettori has found most things in life, but the best miler he has ridden may be emerging in the prolific Palace Pier, who produced a "whoosh" moment for racing's most recognisable face.
Breeders' Cup Mile hero Barathea and Queen Elizabeth II Stakes winner Dubai Millennium were the two names on Dettori's lips when pressed for that honour, but he paid Palace Pier, who notched his seventh win from just eight starts with a classy display in the Al Shaqab Lockinge, the ultimate compliment when saying: "He could be the best miler I've ridden, yes.
"He's got to tot up a series of Group 1s, but at the moment everything is in place."
This was the John and Thady Gosden-trained inmate's third triumph at the highest level after he captured the St James's Palace Stakes and Jacques le Marois last term, and it never looked in doubt here as he saw off Lady Bowthorpe and Top Rank, although his starting odds of 1-2 suggested such a cosy victory was in store.
He was, in Dettori's words, flattened breaking from the stalls at the start, but glided forward with power and purpose at halfway, producing a response that might have surprised his experienced partner.
"He found a nice rhythm and I knew he hits a flat spot between the two and three so I went to lay up, and he went whoosh and just took off," added the now five-time Lockinge winner, who was in the grey silks of Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum.
"He was a long time in front, but won like a really good horse."
Gosden snr again floated the mouthwatering possibility of Palace Pier, officially the world's best miler with Persian King last year, stepping up in distance later in the campaign for York's Juddmonte International, but Dettori is eyeing the Queen Anne at Royal Ascot, for which the Kingman colt is odds-on around the 4-7 mark.
"We don't need to go up in trip at the moment," he said. "He's very good and a wonderful athlete, while he's got a good temperament; he's got everything you want and can only get better.
"I'm very excited for the rest of the season. He's a serious horse. I rode him the other morning and he flew, which he usually doesn't do, and I said to John we're so blessed to have horses like him in the yard. He puts a smile on everyone's face and he's a great horse to be around."
The connections of Lady Bowthorpe feel the same about a horse quickly becoming one of Flat racing's most popular performers.
Off the back of a career-best on Racing Post Ratings in the Dahlia Stakes this month, she went off a 22-1 shot and was no match for the impressive winner, but lost little in defeat.
"I'm very proud and we always hoped she was a Group 1 horse which she's proved today," said William Jarvis, who trains the five-year-old for music agent to the stars Emma Banks.
"We've bumped into the best miler in Europe, but we've pulled clear of the rest so it was a very good performance. The only thing that surprised me today was her price. I'm not a betting man, but mentioned to a few people that it was too big."
Jarvis, like John Gosden a long-serving member of the Newmarket training ranks, dined at the top table with St James's Palace Stakes winner Grand Lodge, but that was in 1994.
"I'm chuffed to bits," he added. "Second does stink and I hate finishing there, but to finish second to a horse like that is no disgrace."
That is something Dettori will certainly vouch for.
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