While there is still a very long way to go before the curtain is drawn on the 2023 flat racing season on Champions Day at Ascot on October 21. The dust has already settled on the majority of the British Classics with the 1000 and 2000 Guineas being held at Newmarket in May. And the Oaks and Derby taking place at Epsom Racecourse earlier this month.
The St Leger, the longest and oldest of the five prestigious races, doesn’t take place at Doncaster until September 16. So, at this stage of the season, it’s worth taking stock of the four Classic winners to date.
2000 Guineas – Chaldean
If you asked anyone what the ideal storyline would be before the Guineas Festival took place at Newmarket in May. The majority would have said Frankie Dettori kickstarting his farewell tour with a win in the opening Classic of the season and it must have been written in the stars because the legendary jockey did just that.
Jocked up in the saddle of Chaldean and donning the unmistakable green and pink silks of Juddmonte. Which he had worn successfully atop the great Enable many a time, Dettori reined in pacesetter Hi Royal and Oisin Murphy inside the final furlong and kept on to win by just short of two lengths from the Kevin Ryan-trained runner who was a 125/1 shot in the horse race betting.
1000 Guineas – Mawj
While the first Classic of the season seemed like a date with destiny for Dettori, the 1000 Guineas the following day had a sense of redemption for Murphy. The Irishman returned from his suspension from the sport in February and his comeback trail has been littered with winners since, none more important than this though.
Booked to ride Mawj by trainer Saeed bin Suroor for Godolphin. There was an argument that the three-year-old was overpriced at 9/1 as she won back-to-back races in Meydan in January and February coupled with Murphy’s fantastic ride on Hi Royal 24 hours earlier. Indeed, that proved to be the case as Mawj made pretty much all the running and held off 6/4 favourite Tahiyra by half-a-length.
Oaks – Soul Sister
Like something out of a Hollywood movie, an inspired Dettori landed a blockbuster Group 1 double for father-son trainer partnership John and Thady Gosden on Ladies’ Day at Epsom earlier this month winning the Coronation Cup for a sixth time with Emily Upjohn before securing a seventh Oaks with Soul Sister later on the card.
The three-year-old was considered the second favourite at 11/4 for the third Classic of the season behind Aidan O’Brien’s heavily backed Savethelastdance (5/6). But Soul Sister fared much the better as she was ridden clear by Dettori a furlong out to beat the rallying Ballydoyle runner by a length and three quarters.
Derby – Auguste Rodin
Tipped for a serious bid at the Triple Crown (2000 Guineas, Derby and St Leger) by O’Brien before the start of the campaign, Auguste Rodin flattered to deceive in the first Classic of the season as he finished 12th of 14 runners despite setting off as the short-price market leader at 13/8.
That huge disappointment on the Rowley Mile meant the Coolmore Stud horse was overlooked for the Derby somewhat. However, those who still had faith in Auguste Rodin to get the job done on the Epsom Downs got good value at 9/2 as the three-year-old was ridden into the lead 110 yards out to win under Ryan Moore. It was the ninth Derby win for O’Brien and a third for Moore.
White Birch, who was third in the Derby, is the ante-post favourite for the St Leger at Doncaster in September.