Concerned, indeed, was the Racing Breaks office, when our Wednesday edition of the Racing Post arrived to news of Frankie Dettori's imminent arrest. Thankfully, it emerged, this was but a humorous endorsement of his Chester ride that afternoon, aboard the John and Thady Gosden Arrest, who'd scored a double at Sandown last season, and was beaten only by a head in October's G1 Critérium de Saint-Cloud. Waving farewell to the Roodee, our ambassador (in his career-long synonymous Juddmonte colours) duly bore down on Aidan O'Brien's Adelaide River, pushing Hadrianus, Duke Of Oxford and Galactic Jack behind them.
But Galactic Jack's defeat was to be a Balding blip, as he arrived north in triumph from a second 2,000 Guineas victory on Coronation Saturday. This time, felictiously, Chaldean still had our ambassador aboard by the finishing line, the pair wading past O'Brien favourites Little Big Bear and Auguste Rodin, dumping them unceremoniously in last and third last respectively. The rain lashed, the umbrellas unfurled. But the Rowley Mile stayed celebratory. Many punters, no doubt, were there not only to see our new king crowned, but to join the rapture of Dettori's farewell tour, as it hits our shores with all the force of a tornado, careering through the country from a Californian pillage, with Epsom in sight and Ascot thereafter.
Chaldean, of course, won't be joining Frankie at Epsom. And Dettori instead may find himself packing a suitcase for a weekend in Ireland, as the Balding ace takes on an Irish 2,000 Guineas, whose entries include recently seen-off Adelaide River, and Adelaide River's stablemate, Greenland, who redeemed Royal Lodge disappointment with a double in France: in the G3 Prix La Force and Prix Greffulhe. Chaldean's Derby absence, however, is no matter for the Baldings, as yesterday's splendiferous Dante jewel joins the field, with redemption seeking Oisin Murphy jumping aboard for another leg of his own tour ('The Return'), which has already seen him claim a 1,000 Guineas aboard Saeed bin Suroor's Mawj, fending off Dermot Weld's carefully considered Tahiyra in the Newmarket mud.
Coronation weekend came just a few weeks on from the Craven, when Kevin Stott careered down the same dip on Indestructible. Earlier that week, Daniel Muscutt had taken the Feilden on Canberra Legend (an unfortunate ninth at York twenty-four hours ago), and the Nell Gwyn had seen Amo Racing success, with Richard Hannon trained Mammas Girl. All remain Classic contenders. But they must rank nowhere close to the still highly priced The Foxes. "I'm more relieved than impressed," an off-guard Andrew Balding told the press yesterday afternoon. But as he seeks to (finally) replicate paternal success (just one Derby win would be enough to match the magnificence of Mill Reef in 1971...), Balding's response would, surely, be more than relief, should The Foxes' white feet thunder victorious down the Epsom hill.