Self-flagellation comes a little easier when standing in the winner’s enclosure after one of the season’s most valuable events. “Panicked”, “stupid” and “a mess” were three of the ways John Gosden described the first half of Too Darn Hot’s season here on Wednesday but that is now a distant memory thanks to a half-length win in the Sussex Stakes, a third Group One victory in five days for Gosden and his jockey, Frankie Dettori.

Too Darn Hot carried all before him in an unbeaten four-race career at two, earning the highest end-of-season rating for a juvenile since the incomparable Frankel. But his second season opened with a run of four straight defeats – honourable, for the most part, but defeats all the same. A recent Group One win in France steadied the ship but this victory was the one that really mattered and confirmation duly followed that Too Darn Hot will retire to Dalham Hall Stud at the end of the season.

There were two or three strides in the course of the race when a hard-luck story suddenly seemed possible. Too Darn Hot was in a slight pocket and Circus Maximus, who beat him in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, had already struck for home. Dettori, though, is riding like a man who can see 10 seconds into the future and, having waited a couple of seconds for some running room away from the rail, he launched Too Darn Hot after his old rival and chased him down with something to spare.

Dettori has won three consecutive Group Ones in Britain for the second time this summer and has a live chance to make it four in a row when he rides Mehdiyaah, the second-favourite, in the Nassau Stakes here on Thursday. He has also taken eight of the 20 Group Ones in Britain in 2019, three more abroad and needs another five to match his best total at the highest level in a single year.

“I was waiting for Too Darn Hot to come into the paddock and said to John, ‘I’ll probably need a heart transplant by the end of the week’,” Dettori said. “He said, ‘Shut up, you love it,’ and he’s probably right.

“I got him to settle and he showed what he can do. He’s finally got a proper Group One in this country and he’s back to where his reputation should be. John had said don’t panic and wait for the split and I didn’t have much choice. When Andrea [Atzeni, on Zabeel Prince] fell back I managed to pull him out and he was full of running. I passed Ryan [Moore, on Circus Maximus] with ease; he put up a bit of a fight but we got to the line well.

“He’s got a lot of pace and the Breeders’ Cup Mile [at Santa Anita in November] could be ideal, I’m sure that could be an end-of-season target.”

The same meeting could also lie ahead for Liberty Beach, who hit traffic problems in the Group Three Molecomb Stakes but showed electric acceleration as soon as she was in the clear to win her fourth race in five starts. Had Liberty Beach been drawn towards the stands’ side in the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot, it might well have been a perfect five-from-five but John Quinn, her trainer, is more than happy to look forward rather than back.

“She is in the Lowther [at York’s Ebor meeting] and the [Group One] Prix Morny and I like the Morny,” said Quinn, who saddled his only Group One winner in the race in 2014. “We will also target the Prix de l’Abbaye [at Longchamp on Arc day] and then the [Juvenile Turf Sprint at the] Breeders’ Cup. She has a lot of tactical speed and America could suit her.”

 

 

 

 

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