The £420,000 Gr1 Investec Coronation Cup produced the thrilling finish of the first day of the Investec Derby Festival at Epsom when new Cape-based sire Canford Cliffs’s gutsy son Salouen almost pulled off a shock win under a terrific soft ground tactical ride by Silvestre De Sousa.
But the Frankie Dettori genius on the John Gosden-trained Cracksman, a smashing son of Frankel and the top European horse of last season, won the day and a thriller of a race, as he showed courage and character to peg back the leader in the final strides.
The 2-7 favourite, Cracksman faced just five opponents and looked in more than serious trouble in the closing stages of the contest as eventual second Salouen (33/1), under Silvestre De Souza, bravely attempted to hold off last year’s Investec Derby third.
As the Sylvester Kirk-trained leader tired in the final stages, Frankie Dettori got the hot favourite to pull out all the stops to cross the line with just a head to spare. Windstoss was third a further three lengths back.
Owned by Anthony Oppenheimer, the gutsy runner-up Salouen will now be aimed at Royal Ascot in late June, with the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe as his long-term target.
His sire Canford Cliffs made an appearance at the Highlands Stallion Parade just a week earlier and is rostered to stand his first season at the leading farm this coming season.
Trainer Aidan O’Brien won a seventh Oaks as Galileo daughter Forever Together, ridden by his son Donnacha, raced home by four-and-a-half lengths to shed her maiden.
O’Brien claimed four of the first five places, with Godolphin’s 5-2 favourite Wild Illusion running second.
The second day of the festival starts at 15h00 on Saturday.
Don’t miss it on Supersport (Dstv 208)or go to www.tellytrack.com for free live streaming.