An interview with:
JOHN H. M. GOSDEN
ERIC WING: Your accomplishments as a jockey are the envy of almost any rider in the world. But the exuberance you showed at the end of winning today's classic and that you showed just now indicate that winning this race at some point meant an awful lot to you. Could you discuss that.
LANFRANCO DETTORI: Well, it's like the last spot or the last game of the Ryder Cup. I've been close twice. And I was reminding my wife that perhaps it's a bit of fate that it was ten years ago that I got beat with Swain, and that didn't go down very well. And I got close with Sakhee. You know, ten years down the line I had a third chance and didn't want to let it slip.
I had a good horse, I had a good partner. You know, I'm a little bit older, and I'm not say wiser, but more experienced. So I was able to tackle the challenge, I had more serene, and get the job done.
ERIC WING: We're joined by John Gosden and John Ferguson.
This was your first ride aboard Raven's Pass, can you take us through your journey.
LANFRANCO DETTORI: Basically, I rode him at Lingfield a week ago. And he ran fantastic, like a champion of the world. I've been on him a couple of mornings since he's been here. He's just been handling these tracks so good that I was actually quite afraid that it was too good to be true.
You know, we don't have that many cups to worry about, it's not a straightforward horse, just to keep him quiet in the parade, and he's quite fine in the stalls. The stalls have done a fantastic job. That was our main concern that he would not boil over.
The race itself, John said, Don't worry, just find yourself a pitch, and once I got behind Curlin, I said that's half the job done. He's going to take me there, and sure he did.
Then it was a worry moment for a split second when I asked him, would he pick up or would he faulter on the distance, but he did pick up. And the last furlong was a pretty long one, but I could feel that he was still galloping strong and millions of emotions went through my head. When I crossed the line, I didn't really know if it was true or a dream, just that fake reality. But I realized straightaway it was true, and I'm delighted.
Q. John Gosden, congratulations, Raven's Pass answered the ten‑furlong question quite conclusively today. Were there any anxious moments in the paddock with the horse. We saw him blindfolded going into the gate. We heard he may have been a little overexuberant in the paddock. Can you tell us what was going on?
ReplaceName2: Well, we were drawn beside Curlin, so as we came down ‑‑ he's been relaxed all week. As we came down from the receiving barn, with Curlin walking behind us, people were clapping, shouting, screaming. The horse kept its cool, as did Curlin. But it's very intense there; it's very close. People on top of horses, it's amazing, everybody gets kicked, really. He was very relaxed.
But when I went to saddle him, he bucked. And he plunged. He's feeling so well. He just expressed himself that way. And it was a great sign. I only thought that, first of all, I should have broken him in before I brought him here, and, secondly, I wanted to make sure the jock didn't get launched in the paddock.
But once he went out, despite the noise, he was cool as a cucumber. He went to the pony, he's taken to the pony. Went down the gate fine. I was delighted the way he rated. He relaxed throughout the race, and he just picked him off one by one. Came wide, and I think he's won by a margin, he's well the best, and that's the way it should be.
Q. John Ferguson, I know so often you speak on behalf of not just Princess Haya and Sheikh Mohamed. I'm going to ask you to speak for yourself right now. With all of the great success that you've enjoyed representing those individuals, where does this day rank in terms of your personal memories in thoroughbred racing?
JOHN FERGUSON: This is an absolute highlight. Because obviously, you know, I work for John Gosden 25 years ago in California here. So to see John come back and win a classic here on what was his home turf is fantastic.
Frankie not only our jockey, but a great personal friend. The horses by our sire is of quality. He's a horse we bought half of last year after he broke the track record at Sandown, and then the 50, 100% was set aside a couple months ago. So it's a horse with a huge, fantastic team effort. So Stonerside, Darley, they're all working as a team.
I'm only sorry that H.R.H. Princess Haya of Jordan and Sheikh Mohammed can't be here. Because that makes it extra special for me. Because everything we have is down to them. They are the ultimate sportspeople. But Sheikh Mohammed now is just so busy that he couldn't take the time to get here.
So that takes the shine off slightly for me. But overall, it's a fantastically wonderful day.
Q. As great as a Breeders' Cup Classic win is in and of itself, is it made any sweeter by the knowledge that in doing so, you defeated a horse as great as Curlin?
JOHN GOSDEN: Curlin set the standard. Curlin set the benchmark. He's a magnificent horse, and the way he won in the slop last year was superb. In Dubai, he was fantastic. He's a great horse, and he's still a great horse.
But, you know, when you fight ‑‑ it's like any champion. When you fight, you put the belts down on the ground. There's always a chance the challenger can come on and catch you with the left hook, that's all. Doesn't change anything. Curlin still remains an extraordinary fantastic horse.
JOHN FERGUSON: Absolutely, Curlin is a true, true champion. To win the Dubai World Cup as impressively as he did. Come back, win off the bounce off the plane and go on and prove himself time and again, he is a great, great horse.
Q. Seeing as this was your home for quite a few years, coming back here, winning two Breeders' Cup races, including the big one, does it get any better than this? Can you describe your feelings?
JOHN GOSDEN: No, it doesn't get any better than this. Having been with my wife and family for 11 years, based at Hollywood Park, Del Mar, all our great friends here, from the guys that are raking up in the shed areas, through to the owners and trainers and jockeys. No, it doesn't get any better. And if you think it's going to get better, you're really a greedy so‑and‑so, you know. So to me this is a dream come true and a day I'll cherish the rest of my life.
Q. It was noted that you tossed your whip about 15 feet up in the air after you crossed the wire?
LANFRANCO DETTORI: It's gone.
Q. The question was, is this a new trick or something you've done in the past?
LANFRANCO DETTORI: Well, something I was dreaming last night when I thought perhaps you will win, that I would do. Now I regret that I've done it, because somebody else got it.
Q. When did Princess Haya acquire Raven's Pass?
JOHN FERGUSON: We purchased 50% of the horse while he was a 2‑year‑old after the Solario Stakes at Sandown when he broke the track record. The remaining 50% belonged to the McNairs. We picked that up when we purchased the Stonerside property and horses.
Obviously, there is one other thing I'd like to say, this is a fantastic testament to Mr. Bob McNair and the team that he put together at Stonerside, Sean Adger, Bobby Spaulding, they've done an incredible job. I'm just so pleased that Sheikh Mohammed ‑‑ when Mr. McNair decided to sell. I'm so pleased someone like Sheikh Mohammed came along to buy it to keep it together as one entity, so that team will continue to do all the great stuff they've done in the past.
Q. Would Jimmy Fortune have ridden this horse if he had chosen to?
JOHN GOSDEN: It's very clear in my mind that the caldron of racing in the Breeders' Cup is not something. He had a two‑week suspension for a ridiculously minor infringement in England. He was free after two weeks to ride today. You cannot be two weeks off, you don't have the race sharpness, come here with the speed they leave the gate, the style of racing, the bends, the changing of the leads. All of this stuff, you need to be really sharp.
The man on my left is employed by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the husband of Princess Haya of Jordan. It is clear it is a man who's experienced many Breeders' Cup, and won Breeders' Cups, it was only right that it was his horse. And Jimmy called and discussed this with me, and it was his wish. And I call that a noble and highly intelligent gesture. It shows what a great guy he is. He is my jockey in England, and what a great team member he is. And I think he made a highly intelligent decision.
Q. Did he ride for you today?
JOHN GOSDEN: Yeah, he ran in a Grade I for me in England. It was his first day back today.
Q. Can you take us through his season. He had a few tough defeats early on. When did you start looking toward this is race?
JOHN GOSDEN: Been thinking about this race all year, because it was switching to synthetic. It's always been in our minds. To run in the mile would have proved nothing either way. And this was the big challenge, and this is what we had to do. We had a problem early in the year. He was drawn badly, he had some troubles in the gate. He was drawn badly in the Guineas, and the race went very wrong.
We put him away, brought him back at Ascot and James Palace. Probably ran a little late. We were just settling the horse, and he's gotten good and better.
Suddenly, the second half of the year into the fall, he's gotten bigger and stronger and a more magnificent horse. He's one of the best I've trained. And I've been lucky to train a few good ones. He won in the QE II, no one beat him that way. He ran in the Sussex, but that's life.
We've been in horse racing long enough to know that. But now he rightfully can pull it. He's the top of the tree now and he deserves it because he's that good.
Q. The afternoon did not start out very well. Problem with Sixties Icon?
LANFRANCO DETTORI: Stop it.
Q. Now winning two races for Princess Haya, that is a variation of the Godolphin royal blue. Any time you win a big race you express special gratitude to Sheikh Mohammed. How grateful are you and how special is this victory?
LANFRANCO DETTORI: Well, you know, the classic for us Europeans is the biggest prestigious race you can ever win. Like I said, I came close twice, and, you know, I still have to pinch myself. I'd like to sit down and take it all in. Because I really don't feel like I'm in this room right now.
JOHN GOSDEN: You are.
Q. What do you do Raven's Pass next?
JOHN GOSDEN: I think we just sit down and see whether the horse races next year. Whether he retires to stud. Those are decisions to be discussed with Princess Haya and Sheikh Mohammed. And they will be done. So it will be thought about all angles up‑and‑down. But as you race them again, you've got plenty of options, that's for sure.
Q. His breeding overseas?
JOHN GOSDEN: Same decisions to be made by Sheikh Mohammed. He'll make the final decision on that matter. Wouldn't know right now.
JOHN FERGUSON: It hasn't been discussed. Purely and simply, because nobody wants to tempt fate. Now obviously he's won the Breeders' Cup Classic. John and I will sit down with Sheikh Mohammed and Princess Haya, and talk through the many, many different options, and the decision will be made in the next few weeks.
JOHN GOSDEN: I'd like to publicly apologize to my wife for being pretty impossible to live with the last month or so.
LANFRANCO DETTORI: She's there.
JOHN GOSDEN: I've been like a coil spring for this visit here. And I knew that I had the horse that could do the job. The nice 2‑year‑old was nice to have as well. But she's put up with a very irritable, tricky husband, and I'd like that.
LANFRANCO DETTORI: I'd like to suffer him on the plane for ten hours later.
Q. How long did you work for Mr. Gosden, and what did do you?
JOHN FERGUSON: I worked for one winter. I was working for Michael Stoute in Europe, and he got fed up with me for the winter and sent me out to John Gosden for experience.
JOHN GOSDEN: He was my pony boy.
JOHN FERGUSON: Absolutely. I was a hot‑walker, pony boy. And never, ever in one's wildest dreams did you think the three of us would be sitting here. I knew these two would, but I didn't think I would.
Q. Frankie didn't you work for John, too?
LANFRANCO DETTORI: Four years. Been a jockey, well tries.
JOHN GOSDEN: He's a very good jockey. He works very, very hard.
Q. After playing second fiddle to Navigator during a frustrating summer, finally you beat him in the Queen Elizabeth at Ascot. And when it mattered the most, you have the greatest rider working for you. How ironic is it? And Mr. Gosden, some of the European horses who did well today, they had training ground races at Dundalk and Kenton, but you go one gallop at Lingfield with Frankie. And you come in first at the biggest race in the world. What kind of training genius are you?
JOHN GOSDEN: I'm not a training genius. I'm just lucky enough to have my hands on a fantastic horse.
Q. How much does this mean more than to win the derby?
LANFRANCO DETTORI: Different, different.
JOHN GOSDEN: He's got a monkey off his back.
LANFRANCO DETTORI: This is personal satisfaction. I've got to go because I have to fly back to England. So I love you.
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