Dettori times it right as Epictetus lands Bonhams Thoroughbred Stakes

Horse Racing | Press Article 17/04/24

Epictetus (6/1) came home strongly under a perfectly judged Frankie Dettori ride to upset 4/6 favourite Nostrum in the G3 Bonhams Thoroughbred Stakes.

Winner of a soft ground Derby trial at Epsom in April, Epictetus was disappointing in the Hampton Court Stakes at Royal Ascot but the combination of a drop back in trip on ground he likes proved the catalyst to a return to form.

The winner followed front-running Nostrum and, once the gap came entering the final furlong, his finishing kick proved too much for the leader. There was a length between the duo at the line, with Galeron (14/1) a length and a half further back in third.

Winning co-trainer Thady Gosden said: “Epictetus showed plenty of speed over a mile at two, and we thought he was a horse who would progress to 10 furlongs this year, but obviously that did not pan out. He has run good races but not what we thought that he was capable of.

"It was a perfect ride from Frankie. He broke well, sat him on the fence, followed Ryan [Moore] and did a Houdini move, but being Frankie that worked out. Nostrum is a very smart horse, but Frankie gave our horse a brilliant ride.

"Epictetus ran a very good race last year at Doncaster when second to a future Derby winner on soft ground. He rolls his knee a little bit and is bred to like a little bit of give in the ground. It is slightly less tacky today and a bit more good to soft.

On plans, he added: "There is a mile race back here, the Celebration Mile, which fits in well."

Dettori: “We tried Epictetus three times over 10 furlongs and we always had an excuse – the ground, the competition, and then we thought maybe George [Strawbridge, owner] was right when he said, 'Maybe you guys are running this horse too long?'

"John and Thady found this race over a mile and the favourite looked very hard to beat. I had a good passage. Once I got the gap it was up to me to do the rest and, while Ryan wasn't stopping [on Nostrum], my horse showed a turn of foot.

“Now we've got the distance right, we can concentrate on mile races. He is ready to go up in grade – the Celebration Mile in three weeks springs to mind and then there are lots of races in the autumn at Newmarket, and maybe over Arc weekend. He has beat a decent field today in style and we can make big plans.”

James Savage, assistant trainer to Sir Michael Stoute, said of Nostrum: “Ryan [Moore] thought that he had the race in the perfect place four out, picked up the pace to the two and he thought the race was for us. He said that just the last hundred yards, it just felt like he had a puncture, and the horse didn’t get home. We have always thought that he would handle ease in the ground, but I think maybe that dead ground has just probably caught him out in the last stages.

“It is very different ground to the July meeting. The way he quickened at the July meeting, and in the Dewhurst, and when he won at Newmarket and Sandown, he always hit the line. And we just felt he didn’t hit the line today, so we will give him a good check over and re-group.

“He is a very, very good horse, and we are not going to lose any faith in him. He will have all the best entries and we will just have to re-group and get it right next time.

“We did the right thing by not going for the Sussex. And we did the right thing by not going straight to France, because the horse had never had an overnight trip, so this is an experience again for him and will bring him on further. He has been away, he’s been overnight, and he’s raced on softer ground than ideal. It will bring him forward mentally and physically.

“All of our horses are trained to hit their heights at a certain time, and this horse – for sure he’s a very good horse this year, but he will be an even better horse next year.”

Charlie Hills said of Galeron: “I am really pleased with his run today. We have always had a little plan to go to Australia with him for the Golden Eagle, or one of those races. I think we can probably put a line through his race at Ascot, which was a bit disappointing, but he’s shown a good level there today. He is a very nice horse.”

2.25pm Bonhams Thoroughbred Stakes (Group 3)
1 Epictetus (George Strawbridge) John & Thady Gosden 3-9-03 Frankie Dettori 6/1
2 Nostrum (Juddmonte Farms) Sir Michael Stoute 3-9-03 Ryan Moore 4/6F
3 Galeron (Teme Valley & Aura Racing) Charlie Hills 3-9-03 Tom Marquand 14/1
7 ran

John & Thady Gosden – 45th Qatar Goodwood Festival winners, including 42 for John Gosden in his own name
Frankie Dettori – 77th Qatar Goodwood Festival winner