HomeHorse RacingFrankie Dettori takes off on 'aeroplane' Elite Power to win Riyadh Dirt...

Frankie Dettori takes off on ‘aeroplane’ Elite Power to win Riyadh Dirt Sprint


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Slightly taken off his feet in the early stages, the Eclipse Award winner engaged overdrive inside the final two furlongs and ran out a wide margin scorer.

Winner of the Breeders’ Cup Sprint last time out, Elite Power was simply in a different league to his rivals – but this was a poignant success for Dettori.

He was sporting the silks of the famous Juddmonte operation, founded by the late Saudi prince Khalid Abdullah and worn to many big-race wins by Dettori on the likes of Enable and most recently in the Dewhurst on Chaldean.

“The first word that comes to mind is ‘aeroplane’,” said Dettori of the Bill Mott-trained five-year-old.

“As soon as I asked him to get a little bit closer he just took off and the race was over.

“The Abdullah family has been so good for the sport and I love the colours. It’s given the locals something to cheer about.”

Dettori and Country Grammer miss out

Dettori and Country Grammer just missed out as Panthalassa produced a remarkable front-running performance to strike gold for Japan in the $20million Saudi Cup.

The Bob Baffert-trained Country Grammer was narrowly denied in the world’s most valuable race 12 months ago when ridden by Flavien Prat, before providing Dettori with a fourth Dubai World Cup success at Meydan a few weeks later.

Following a readying win in California on Boxing Day, the six-year-old returned to Riyadh as one of two leading contenders for the Baffert team along with multiple Grade One winner Taiba – but Panthalassa set a strong gallop from the off at the King Abdulaziz Racecourse and could not be reeled in.

Trained by Yoshito Yahagi and ridden by Yutaka Yoshida, Panthalassa dead-heated in last year’s Dubai Turf with Lord North who earlier in the day had landed a far less lucrative Winter Derby at Lingfield.

Such was the pace Panthalassa set, Baffert’s pair were under pressure before the home turn and it briefly looked like it could be a Japanese one-two-three-four with a trio of compatriots chasing Panthalassa up the straight.

But Dettori conjured a storming late rally out of Country Grammer, with the line coming just too soon as he was narrowly denied once again.

No fairytale comeback for Subjectivist

There was to be no fairytale comeback for 2021 Ascot Gold Cup winner Subjectivist who finished well down the field behind Silver Sonic in the Red Sea Turf Handicap in Riyadh.

Now trained by Charlie Johnston, Subjectivist was undoubtedly the leading stayer in Europe when adding Ascot’s showpiece race to his win in Dubai a few months prior.

However, he picked up a tendon injury and was off the track for over 600 days before this return on the Saudi Cup undercard.

Joe Fanning – himself only recently back from a long-term injury – attempted to dictate but he could never get away from the field and soon after turning into the straight he was beaten.

Silver Sonic, trained in Japan by Yasutoshi Ikee and ridden by Australian Damian Lane, burst clear and while Ian Williams’ Enemy briefly threatened, he was no match for the grey close home.

Ebor winner Trawlerman, trained by John and Thady Gosden, also failed to land a blow.

“He’s a good horse and good stayer and the race unfolded well for him,” said Lane.

“I was obviously very happy to follow Subjectivist. Trawlerman on my outside was just giving me a little bit of grief – he was getting in on me a little bit and I just knew I needed some luck at some stage. When the run presented itself, he was too strong.

“I think the Tenno Sho in Japan is next on the cards. I’m back to Australia for a few weeks then off to the Dubai Carnival, hopefully.”

Asked if he would be coming to Britain at any stage, he quipped: “For the right offer, for sure!”

Richard Kingscote, who rode Enemy, said: “With the track riding as it is, I wanted to get a bit handier than in Dubai. To be fair he did everything really well. He got a good, smooth run round the bend to get out and challenge, but the winner picked up extremely well.”

Johnston said: “He had to light him up from that draw a bit and he would have been keen, regardless. That was made worse by what he had to do early.

“We will see if he comes out of it in one piece, but he will probably go to the Sagaro or the Henry II, just lower our sights closer to home. I would say he won’t go to Dubai now.

“We knew what we are asking him to do was a big, big ask, but at the same time, where do you take the horse that won the Ascot Gold Cup last time out?”

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