International hero Mostahdaf marks another record for retiring Dettori

Mostahdaf provided Frankie Dettori with a fifth domestic Group One of the season and in the process helped him become the most successful jockey in the history of the Juddmonte International at York.

In drawing away from Lester Piggott with a sixth win in York’s best race, Dettori created yet another record in a career that is set to end later this year.

But when you see him at his best, as he was once again from the front on John and Thady Gosden’s five-year-old, you have to wonder why he is retiring at all.

Yes, he has achieved almost everything in the game, but on the big occasion and when it matters the most, there really have been very few better.

Up against the potential Horse of the Year in Aidan O’Brien’s Paddington, who had beaten Dettori and Emily Upjohn in the Eclipse, he was determined his younger rival was not going to have things all his own way.

In a complete change of tactics from Ascot, when Mostahdaf had been so impressive in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, Dettori bounded out of the stalls into an early advantage and it was one he would not relinquish with the Italian hailing him as the best 10-furlong horse around.

With his Ascot partner Jim Crowley suspended for his winning ride in the King George, Dettori for once was in the role as super-sub.

He still held a two-length lead two furlongs out but it was then a matter of what was left in the tank, however, by then Paddington was also beginning to paddle and it was the winner’s stablemate Nashwa closing in.

There might not have been much in the locker at the finish, but as he so often has in his storied career, Dettori had ridden the perfect race.

“He’s run over a mile and a half, so he stays a mile and a quarter really well. The key was to get the fractions right, not too slow and not too fast and thankfully after 36 years I got it right,” said Dettori.

“I knew I had got it right because when I looked round I still had two lengths rope, I expected them to be on my quarters and when they weren’t I knew it would take a good horse to catch me now.

“This is my last Ebor meeting, my wife has come along and to be the first jockey to get six Juddmonte Internationals, beating Lester, I couldn’t ask for more.

“This was a real team effort. I have to thank Angus Gold and Richard Hills (Shadwell’s racing managers), Sheikha Hissa for giving me the ride and John and Thady – and especially Jim, it’s his ride. We all came up with a plan to beat this great horse Paddington. We wanted to bully the race from the beginning. It takes a good horse to do that and he was.”

Connections of Mostahdaf had admitted in the build up to the race that his achievements had somewhat gone under the radar, his Ascot performance looked too good to be true and yet he backed it up again.

“What he did at Ascot, people thought it was put on a plate for him but today he did it on his own,” said Dettori, who, when asked about his impending retirement replied: “I’ve got seven weeks and three days left – not that I’m counting!

“We were having to give 7lb to the favourite, but for a reason – we are an older horse and stronger, but that is valuable weight and quite an advantage. Because of that I didn’t want to have to chase him, when you are giving a horse weight you want them chasing you, not be chasing them.

“There’s a limit you can go, you don’t want to go too fast but at the same time you can’t go too slow.

“He’s a super horse, he showed that at Ascot. Because we know he stays a bit further, we wanted it to be a test and I could be aggressive.”

Dettori has ridden greats like Halling, Swain, Sakhee and Authorized to success in this great race and he feels Mostahdaf sits comfortably in their company.

“Undoubtedly he is the best mile-and-a-quarter horse around after this performance. I suspect John will find some good races for him at the end of the season but unfortunately for me, I’m not likely to be on him, but I’ll just take it as it comes,” he said.

“Equinox beat this horse a good few lengths over a mile and a half, which isn’t his best distance while it might be for Equinox. This lad is right at home over a mile and a quarter.

“To be the first jockey to win this six times means a lot.”

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