Frankie Dettori produced a brilliant front-running ride aboard Mostahdaf as he lowered the colours of Paddington in a thrilling edition of the Juddmonte International Stakes at York on Wednesday.
Deputising for the suspended Jim Crowley aboard John and Thady Gosden’s Royal Ascot scorer, Dettori wasted little time in bouncing the 3-1 second favourite out of the stalls and quickly into stride, he set perfect fractions as the Shadwell-owned five-year-old made every yard of the running.
Although Ryan Moore received the desired response when asking Paddington to close the gap in the home straight, he ultimately had no answer to Mostahdaf who kept finding extra under an ultra-confident Dettori as he registered a length success and followed up the owner’s victory in the Group One contest with the imperious Baaeed 12 months ago.
Stablemate Nashwa edged her way past Paddington for the silver medal late on as the Clarehaven team enjoyed a fabulous one-two, but the day belonged to Dettori who by winning the race for the first time since 2007, moved past Lester Piggott to become the contest’s leading rider.
Mostahdaf’s success was another high-profile victory in the Shadwell colours in what has been a fine campaign, with Hukum’s King George verdict at Ascot and Al Husn’s Nassau win at Goodwood other moments to savour in recent weeks.
John Gosden was full of praise for Dettori’s ride and said: “I think Frankie is like many of us, he’s getting better with age!
Enjoy the replay:
“At Ascot people questioned whether Mostahdaf was as good as he looked, but he’s probably stopped the clock in impressive fashion again.
“The filly (Nashwa) showed her class today as well having got stuck in the mud in the Nassau – it was brave to run her from the owner, he wanted to support British racing.
“The winner can handle good to soft, he just hated the bottomless ground in the Arc (when last in 2022). He just wants summer racing ground.
“It was the plan to make it a real test today. There was no point letting Ryan do his own thing. It was like Roberto and Brigadier Gerard all over again but the filly finished second, the other boy (Paddington) has been very busy.”
Dettori retires from the saddle at the end of the year and Gosden thinks he will be hard to match.
He added: “Frankie is the only man who can go to Longchamp and win from the front and have the French jockeys guessing. He’s a genius, he’s like a chameleon – he can adapt to any style.
“We’ll miss him and he’s winning a lot of big races right now, so you never know he might be back next year!”
Mostahdaf’s odds for a range of races were shortened after his victory, with Gosden planning to consult with Shadwell’s Sheikha Hissa before mapping out a definite target.
He said: “I’ve always thought he was a very good horse, but when he won the Neom Cup that was electric. We then stupidly tried him over a mile and a half again against the Japanese world champion (Equinox in the Sheema Classic) and got put in our box, but I think it will be 10 furlongs all the way now.
“You could probably get away with a mile and a half at the Breeders’ Cup round a few bends and down a hill, but I don’t think we’ll see that. I’ll see what the owner wants to do, she’s done wonderfully well, her father would be so proud of her and she follows them passionately.
Shadwell’s racing manager Angus Gold said: “To win the races we’ve done this year has been incredible – the Prince of Wales’s, the King George, the Nassau and this (race). It’s been an amazing year.
“We have to enjoy it and be grateful. This was a proper race. I was sad for York and the crowd there were only four runners, but it was a quality race on paper and it lived up to its billing.
“We knew if we stood any chance of beating Paddington, we had to do something different rather than let him have his own way out in front again.
“Frankie proved a good substitute to have on the day. We weren’t too worried changing tack because this horse has won over a mile and a half, as long as Frankie got the pace right.”
Aidan O’Brien blamed himself for pulling “the elastic band too long” with Paddington after his star colt’s remarkable winning run came to an end in the Juddmonte International at York.
The son of Siyouni has arguably been the star of the season so far, winning each of his previous six races including Group One triumphs in the Irish 2,000 Guineas, the St James’s Palace, the Coral-Eclipse and the Sussex Stakes.
- Ladies Day at York continues at 14h50 today.