Frankie Dettori, on Mother Earth, rode his 20th British Classic winner in the 1,000 Guineas and then celebrated as if it were the first. He whooped and hollered all the way to the winner’s enclosure on Aidan O’Brien’s filly, and was still yelling: “Come on, me!” as he disappeared back into the changing room. Dettori has ridden more than 250 Group One winners over three decades, but the Classics still matter most of all.
Mother Earth’s biggest claim to fame before the race was having been caught up in an identity swap with a stable companion before finishing third in the Fillies’ Mile at this course last year. But she was a solid second-string behind O’Brien’s Santa Barbara, who drifted from 5-4 on Saturday afternoon to start as 5-2 joint-favourite, and ran out a one-length winner from Saffron Beach and Fev Rover, with Santa Barbara less than two lengths away in fourth.
“I’m super-excited to win that,” Dettori said, somewhat unnecessarily. “I didn’t have the pressure of riding the favourite and I had a very willing partner with a filly that I knew was going to give me everything.
“Aidan gave me a lot of confidence this morning. He said: ‘Forget about Santa Barbara, just ride your own race.’ I forgot about Santa Barbara, kicked at the top of the hill, I knew she’d stay really well and she did and I won, it’s as simple as that.
“The 20th [British] Classic for me, 50 years old. I’m only 10 behind Lester, I’ve got plenty of time. Lester was 56 [when Piggott won his last Classic], so I’ve got six years yet. And Johnny V [Velasquez, who won Saturday’s Kentucky Derby] is 49. Come on the oldies.”
Dettori was not even the oldest Classic-winning jockey of the weekend, as Kevin Manning, victorious in Saturday’s 2,000 Guineas on Poetic Flare, is 54.
For O’Brien, meanwhile, Sunday’s race was an immediate response to suggestions that his three-year-olds are not firing, just 24 hours after his runners in the 2,000 Guineas all finished well beaten.
O’Brien said afterwards that High Definition, the clear favourite for next month’s Derby at Epsom, will make his seasonal debut in the Derby Trial at Lingfield next weekend, while Santa Barbara, who was ridden by Ryan Moore, is expected to improve significantly for Sunday’s experience when she lines up for the Oaks on 4 June. A strong suspicion remains that, in time, she will prove to have been the most talented filly in the field.
“Mother Earth is a very good filly, always was,” O’Brien said. “It was unfair to [Santa Barbara] to come, but we had to come, with a view to coming back to the Oaks. She had to run [but] she’s only a baby.
“Ryan said that intentionally he’d like to have waited longer, but he saw Frankie coming down his outside and he had to go then. She was just green in the dip but after having one easy run [before the Classic], it was a great run.
“We felt today that coming here, she was going to learn as much as she would for three runs [somewhere else], but it was a risk doing it, that she was going to get beaten. But she’ll be fine and she has plenty of time now to get over it.”
Santa Barbara was favourite for the Oaks before Sunday’s race and is now top-priced at 7-2 for the fillies’ Classic at Epsom. Mother Earth is also quoted for the Oaks but is more likely to stick to a mile and head to the Irish 1,000 Guineas.
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