One day after the mortification of his runners in the Fillies’ Mile being mixed up, Aidan O’Brien saddled a one-two in the Dewhurst Stakes, won by St Mark’s Basilica at 10-1 under Frankie Dettori at Newmarket. Ryan Moore, O’Brien’s principal jockey, was aboard the runner-up, Wembley.
“You know with Aidan O’Brien, even the number-two horse is a strong one,” Dettori told ITV Racing soon after pulling up aboard the juvenile.
Bookmakers set about slashing the odds of St Mark’s Basilica for next year’s 2,000 Guineas, for which he had been a 33-1 shot on Saturday morning, making him 12-1 in places.
“Not a problem,” Dettori said, when asked how his mount would cope with the extra furlong of the Guineas. “Well done, Aidan and the team. This is my first Group One win for them.”
It is also the 49-year-old jockey’s second success in the Dewhurst, a race which frustrated him for decades until he bagged it for the first time aboard Too Darn Hot two years ago. Thunder Moon, the 11-4 favourite, was a game third after racing wide of the favoured rail for much of the race.
That made it a clean sweep of the places for the O’Brien family, as Thunder Moon is trained by Aidan’s son, Joseph, who had been hoping for a big weekend double after his Pretty Gorgeous won the Fillies’ Mile on Friday.
Before racing, the stewards held an inquiry into the Fillies’ Mile, in which the two runners from O’Brien Sr’s stable carried the wrong jockeys and number cloths, leading to post-race confusion as to which of them had finished third. After information was collected, including from the trainer, the embarrassing incident was forwarded to the British Horseracing Authority for resolution.
“It was one of those weeks,” O’Brien Sr reflected after the Dewhurst. His runners for Arc day in Paris last Sunday, including St Mark’s Basilica, had to be withdrawn because of the contamination crisis affecting the Gain feed company.
“That’s the way the cards were falling for us all week. We always say we do our best to try and make it happen, but then things happen that are not in your control and you can’t do anything about them.
“Things happen and then you say, why couldn’t I have controlled that, or why couldn’t I have done anything different? And you’d always look back and there is things you would do different, and you’d wonder why you’d made that decision. That’s just the way it is and just accept it, really. It was a funny week.”
Capping a fine weekend in Newmarket for Irish trainers, the Cesarewitch fell to the well-backed, the Willie Mullins-trained Great White Shark, who stayed on irresistibly after seeming in trouble half a mile from home. Mullins has now won the marathon handicap three years in a row. His horse got a smoother passage through the pack than the runner-up, Summer Moon, who could not find a gap when he needed it after travelling strongly.