Victory for Frankie Dettori on Mostahdaf in the Juddmonte International on Wednesday would make him the most successful jockey in the race’s illustrious history.
Dettori currently sits alongside the legendary Lester Piggott on five wins apiece, and the Italian has one more chance to make the record his own before he heads off into retirement.
He has partnered some truly great horses to win the York showpiece, such as Halling (1996), Singspiel (1997), Sakhee (2001) and his first Derby winner Authorized (2007). A spare ride following the suspension picked up by Jim Crowley, Mostahdaf would certainly fit alongside that list.
His four-length victory in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes last time out was jaw-dropping in its brilliance – but in Paddington he faces a genuine Horse of the Year candidate.
“I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy some great days of racing at York over the years, including winning the St Leger there on Sixties Icon whilst the stands were being rebuilt at Doncaster,” Dettori said his World Pool blog.
“The Juddmonte International has been a lucky race for me too, and one more win would take me past Lester Piggott as the race’s most successful jockey. I’ve won it with some of the greats like Sakhee, the Derby winner Authorized, Sulamani, Halling – he was a machine – and Singspiel. They were all serious horses, and hopefully Mostahdaf is too!”
He went on: “Him and Paddington are arguably the two best mile-and-a-quarter horses around, so we’ve got a great race on our hands. We’ve got to give 9lb to a very good three-year-old, so it won’t be an easy task, but my fella has done nothing wrong this year.
“I rode him the other day and he’s beautiful. A really strong, powerful horse, which is what you’d want to see in a five-year-old. Paddington is entitled to be a short-price favourite, but Mostahdaf has really stepped up this season and I’m looking forward to having a crack at it.”
Dettori also has leading claims in the Sky Bet Great Voltigeur Stakes on the unbeaten Leger favourite Gregory, like Mostahdaf trained by John and Thady Gosden.
“Gregory comes here off the back of a good win in the Queen’s Vase at Ascot, but it’s so hard to know what kind of form he’s in as he does nothing in the mornings. He’s so laid back that I don’t even think bombs would move him!” said Dettori.
“I’d like to think that he’ll improve again for that run at Ascot, which was only his third start, but we only know as much as anyone else that’s seen him race.”