A thrilling St Leger at Yorkshire’s own Doncaster racecourse saw trainer Aidan O’Brien claim a sensational seventh straight win in the classic race as Continuous won with Ryan Moore on the reigns. Setting off at 3-1, the second favourite, the runner from Ballydoyle in Ireland followed up his striking success in another Yorkshire race, the Great Voltiguer at York. This success at Doncaster cemented a growing reputation but also led to disappointment for royalty, both real and of the racing ilk, not to mention the many punters who had jumped on the pre-race favourite with the horse racing betting sites.
That’s because Continuous’ success meant it was only a second-place finish for legendary jockey Frankie Dettori in his final British Classic flat race. The iconic jockey shocked racing when he announced back in December that he would be retiring at the end of the 2023 season. With his mount Arrest the 11-4 starting favourite, Dettori would have had high hopes of a fitting finale to a career in Britain that has spanned more than three decades. But alas it wasn’t to be for the king of flat racing as his mount was beaten by two and three quarter lengths.
And there was real royalty in third. The King’s horse, Desert Hero, had a great chance of becoming the first victory for the Royals in any classic race since Dunfermline claimed success for Queen Elizabth II way back in 1977. And there were high hopes for Desert Hero too, who was bred by the late Queen, following a much-heralded triumph in June at Royal Ascot. The horse delivered the first success on the track for King Charles in the King Geroge V stakes, ironically on the same day that Dettori secured an incredible ninth Gold Cup triumph.
But at Doncaster, seven was the magic number for trainer O’Brien, who has secured an incredible run of success in this race. And this win for Continuous could now lead to a tilt at one of the most famous races of them all, the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at the famous Longchamp course in just a couple of weeks. O’Brien didn’t want to commit in his post-race comments,
“He got the distance very well in York and we were not sure about the distance but he has got it well again. There are a lot of possibilities and it will be down to the lads, the Arc is in two weeks and is a possibility, but we’ll talk to Ryan and see what they want to do.
“He’s a lot of class this horse this horse and he does stay and he does handle soft ground. There is every chance he could, he’s a hardy horse and he could back up in two weeks. The lads will decide that, but I would say there is a chance.”
The Arc is a race Dettori could also be targeting, and O’Brien was effusive in his praise for the legendary jockey. “Frankie is another who is special, he has been unbelievable. He’s beaten us in so many races I cannot tell you and I can’t wait until he retires! He’s the most unbelievable rider we’ve ever seen and a great fellow too,” O’Brien said. And Dettori now only has a matter of weeks before he says goodbye to British racing for good and bows out at Ascot’s Champions Day event.
But at Doncaster, the king of the track was indeed O’Brien’s Continuous, who can now be backed at 12-1 for success in the Arc and Europe’s richest flat race. And that certainly would be a victory to be remembered alongside this St Leger triumph.