Chaldean presents Dettori with final 2000 Guineas strike
Frankie Dettori won the Qipco 2000 Guineas at Newmarket on Chaldean on what was his final ride in the Classic.
The Italian is retiring at the end of the current season and knew he had one more shot at glory in the historic race, to add to his three previous victories in the mile contest.
Never far from the pace, Chaldean (7-2) took a lead off Hi Royal who was just about still in front when he veered across the track, which enabled Dettori to forge into the lead.
The Andrew Balding-trained winner had to dig deep, but he eventually came home a length-and-three-quarter winner from 125-1 shot Hi Royal. Royal Scotsman (11-1) was third with 150-1 chance Galeron in fourth.
Auguste Rodin was sent off the 13-8 favourite but was never travelling for Ryan Moore and trailed home well beaten.
With rain falling throughout the day, the ground had turned soft and the likes of Little Big Bear and Sakheer, who had to prove their stamina, drifted markedly in the betting.
On the other hand Chaldean was well supported, from 5-1 to 7-2 and Dettori always looked comfortable.
Hi Royal briefly gave him something to think about and really stretched the field, with all bar the winner and Royal Scotsman treading water.
Chaldean strode out purposefully, though, to give Balding a second 2000 Guineas success after Kameko in 2020. The famous Juddmonte colours were last carried to glory by the brilliant Frankel, Chaldean’s sire, in 2011.
Dettori said: “I was in a fight with Oisin (Murphy on Hi Royal) and once I got rid of him, I thought ‘I’m sure something is going to come’, but I saw plenty of daylight.
“I can’t believe it’s happened really. My last (2000) Guineas, to win it in front of my home crowd, amazing.
“Winning Classics is difficult. It’s my last season and to cap it off with a Classic is beyond my wildest dreams.”
Balding said: “I was a bit worried about the mile in this ground, but he’s just done a wonderful job, Frankie. We’re making the most of our unconventional prep race (unseated in the Greenham), we might set a trend there!
“It was a concern beforehand, but it did him some good because he got out there. I’m just thrilled, what a brilliant ride.
“What can’t you say about Frankie? Since I’ve been involved in the sport he’s been an omnipresent superstar of the sport and what a fitting way to ride his last 2000 Guineas.
“He always looked to be travelling comfortably, I was just a bit worried about getting past Oisin (Murphy, on Hi Royal) because he can get extra lengths out of horse but once we collared him, I was fairly confident.
“I’ve been looking forward to this for a long while, it’s a mixture of relief and elation. It will probably sink in in a bit, it’s a big deal.”
Of next steps for the colt, Balding added: “Let’s enjoy today but Ascot (St James’s Palace Stakes) would seem the obvious target.
“He is in the Irish 2,000 Guineas but he has had a hard race today and giving him as much time between races would be sensible.
“If we did go up in trip, I would imagine it wouldn’t be until York (Juddmonte International).”
Chaldean is owned by Juddmonte, the racing and breeding operation founded by the late Prince Khalid Abdullah.
Prince Saud, Abdullah’s son, said of the victory: “I have to say we have seen the best of the horse today against his own capabilities and traits and I’m very happy to win it.
“I just want to thank and congratulate Frankie.
“I would also like to congratulate the trainer as he has done a great job. I want to thank everyone in Juddmonte as they have done a splendid job.”