Frankie Dettori overcame a slow start from a tricky draw to land the Chester Cup for only the second time in his career, bringing the top-weight Falcon Eight, a 15-2 chance, with a powerful run to lead well inside the final furlong and beat The Grand Visir by two lengths.
Dettori was just a few months past his 20th birthday when he took the Roodee’s famous staying handicap in 1991 and he needed to draw on his decades of experience to get Falcon Eight home after he was slow to stride from stall 10.
Dettori had just four of his 15 opponents behind him as they passed the winning post with two circuits to travel and was still in the same position after another lap of the Roodee. He made steady progress towards the leaders from three out, however, and Falcon Eight’s Group-class finishing speed proved overwhelming when Dettori kicked at the top of the straight.
“We all have plan but when you get that many runners on such a tight track, you have to adapt and readjust your tactics and let the race unfold,” Dettori said, “and that was the case for me today. I took a pull and saved ground all the way to the back, then I got to three-and-a-half and went two or three wide and sling-shotted around the turn, and in fairness, he picked up.
“He’s a Group horse really, Dermot [Weld, his trainer] always had this race in mind and he booked me for this three weeks ago. He can be lazy at times but today he showed a good turn of foot.”
Armory, placed in Group One company in Australia last time out, dropped back to Group Three company to record an easy success in the Huxley Stakes and will now return to racing at the highest level, probably in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot next month.
“He’s really matured,” Aidan O’Brien, Armory’s trainer, said. “He has an unbelievable turn of foot which is a great thing in a horse as you don’t mind if they go fast or slow, he quickens very well.”
Armory is an 8-1 chance to win at Royal Ascot, in a market headed by Lord North, last year’s winner, at 9-4.