IF FRANKIE Dettori is in town, you can guarantee he’ll never be too far from the limelight.
So on a night when Goodwood celebrated the anniversary of his first win in this country - which came on the Downs in June 1987 - it was almost inevitable he would score at least one success.
In fact he didn’t stop at one - and his second victory brought the house down as he gave the Goodwood Racehorse Owners’ Group (GROG) a victory with Goodwood Mirage.
It provided a fantastic spectacle as another big crowd lapped up the racing action before darkness fell and the dancing began as Groove Armada’s Andy Cato got race-goers dancing.
In his first Goodwood contest of the season, the ever-popular Dettori - only a couple of weeks into his return to racing after a six-month ban - guided the Brian Meehan-trained Stormy Paradise, the 11/4 favourite, to a thrilling half-a-length victory over the also-impressive Salford Secret.
The crowd cheered the effervescent Italian back into the winner’s enclosure, where he obliged with a flying dismount - normally reserved for his wins in bigger races. You can see it for yourself in the video with this story.
Clerk of the course Seamus Buckley presented him with a bottle of champagne to mark the anniversary of that first win and Dettori said he couldn’t believe it was 26 years ago.
“Where has the time gone?” he said. “I’ve had more than 50 Glorious Goodwood winners and it brings back good memories of when I beat Steve Cauthen in that finish back in 1987.
“I enjoy it just as much, coming back (to Goodwood). You’re always guaranteed a good crowd. It’s been enjoyable.”
Dettori said he was looking forward to a few rides at Royal Ascot next week - “One win would be magical,” he remarked - and it wouldn’t be long before he was back for another Glorious.
“I like to stay down here, improve my bad golf and ride some winners,” he said of the festival.
Almost as soon as he’d finished talking he was back in the saddle and on his way to another win as Goodwood Mirage gave GROG one of the home-course wins they crave, Dettori holding off Ryan Moore’s challenge on 6/4 favourite Persepolis to clinch a length-and-a-quarter triumph on the 5/1 shot.
There was no flying dismount this time but there were handshakes, cheers and back slaps all round as GROG members crowded around the No1 post to congratulate Dettori, Angmering trainer William Knight and each other on the result.
Knight said: “I’m delighted for all the members. It’s a good start to me training for them.
“Frankie gave him a fantastic ride and I thought he was really impressive. He battled and then found some more.”
Knight said he’d love to bring Goodwood Mirage back for Glorious, but first he needed to see what the handicapper did to his rating and then find a suitable contest in the interim period.
It was the three-year-old’s second win in only three outings.
Knight and GROG were not the only local winners of the evening.
Pulborough trainer Amanda Perrett notched her fourth and fifth Goodwood wins of the season - putting her top of the track’s trainers’ chart ahead Sir Michael Stoute and Richard Hannon.
Pat Dobbs did the business for her in both races.
First he took the Crimbourne Stud Stakes on 8/1 chance Royal Signaller, ahead of George Baker on Linguine (12/1). Then he showed his form again in the last, the TFN Stakes, on 4/1 contender Extrasolar, who had to give it his all to hold off George Baker on Freddy With A Y.
The opening race, the Gordon’s Apprentice Stakes handicap, brought a first Goodwood win for rookie rider Thomas Brown on past course winner Good Authority.
It looked for a long time as though Nicole Nordblad would take the honours on Bravo Echo but Brown and the 7/2 favourite overhauled them in the final furlong to take it by half a length.
Brown said: “It’s great to have my first Goodwood win. It’s a lovely racecourse with great crowds and it’s a privilege to ride here.
“It’s a different course to a normal flat track - it needs a well-balanced horse coming down the hill.”
The win capped what Brown described as a ‘brilliant’ week for him - and with 16 winners to his name for the season to date, he was soon given one of the rides later on the card that Kieren Fallon, signed off by a doctor earlier in the day, was unable to take up - with Michael Attwater asking him to partner Kimberella in the 9.05.
An impressive run from the Ralph Beckett-trained three-year-old Anna’s Pearl, ridden by Jamie Spencer, earned victory for the 6/4 favourite in the Frankie’s 26th Anniversary Maiden Stakes - and Spencer must have glad the man the race was named after was sitting that one out.
After racing, Andy Cato took to the decks in front of another huge crowd in the winner’s enclosure and parade ring - a year after his first planned appearance at the racecourse was blacked out by a power cut.
The Three Fridays Nights conclude next week (June 21) with a set by Radio 1 and 2 legend Trevor Nelson.
See this website on Monday for a picture gallery from the evening and the Chichester Observer next Thursday for full coverage.