Willie Mullins and Frankie Dettori successfully combined to land the Sky Bet Ebor at York with Absurde.
Ireland’s perennial champion jumps trainer was bidding for a second win in one of the Flat season’s most prestigious and lucrative staying handicaps following the success of Sesenta in 2009, while Dettori was on a hat-trick after previous wins on Willing Foe (2012) and Trawlerman (2022).
Having been the toast of punters after steering 9-4 favourite Kinross to victory in the preceding City of York Stakes, the Italian jockey headed back out onto the track for what may well be his final ride on the Knavesmire before his retirement later this year.
Absurde, second to Melbourne Cup-bound stablemate Vauban at Royal Ascot in June before disappointing over hurdles at the Galway Festival, was prominent in the market at 7-1 and while he had to be led down to the start by Dettori, causing a delay, he was as good as gold during race itself.
The five-year-old travelled smoothly towards the front of the pack halfway up the straight – and while 5-2 favourite Sweet William and Live In The Dream both kept him honest, Absurde found plenty against the stands’ rail to see them off by half a length and the same.
“In the last 100 yards I saw Rab (Havlin) coming (on Sweet William), my best mate, and I thought ‘that’s it I’m beat’, but all credit to him (Absurde) – he showed some guts and stuck his neck out,” Dettori told ITV Racing.
“He’s a horse that needs cover and I found myself in the front three out so all I was thinking was I’d messed it up.
“What can I say, I’ve won the Ebor on my last ride (at York) – it’s mad. I thought if I win on Kinross then great but I didn’t expect this one so it’s double sweet.”
Paddy Power cut the winner to 8-1 from 10-1 for both the Cesarewitch and the Irish Cesarewitch, while he is 20-1 from 40-1 for the Melbourne Cup.
Dettori would be quite happy to take the ride in Australia in the hope of finally winning one of the few major races on the international stage to still elude him.
He added: “I did say to Willie I was going Down Under so I’ve asked him to consider me and he said he will, so we’ll see!”
Mullins said: “Frankie has shown us what he can do. I thought he was beaten half a furlong out, I don’t know where Frankie got his energy from in the last 100 yards.
“He pulled that one out of the fire I thought, he was brilliant on him.
“He’s a monkey and he always is at home but he hasn’t done anything like that for a while (refused to go to the start). It’s what he does if you let him get away with it. He’s been very good at home recently but it is in him.
“I’ll have to have a word with the owners about Melbourne, they are at a family do today but I’m sure they’d love to go.
“He’ll have no problem passing the vet, if they do a brain scan he might have a problem!
“What a remarkable jockey, you guys have known for a long time but I thought Frankie was brilliant.”