Absurde lands a Melbourne Cup slot with his York victory

Scott Mcglynn
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Absurde lands a Melbourne Cup slot with his York victory

With retirement on the horizon, could the Ebor winner finally be the ticket for Frankie Dettori to conquer the Melbourne Cup?

News Insights

  • Dettori wins the Ebor
  • Still searching for a Cup ride
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  • Frankie a Flemington bridesmaid

In his final year in the saddle, Frankie Dettori has the opportunity to head to the Melbourne Cup with his Ebor-winning ride to try and fill that gap on his CV. Three times, he has been second past the post in the great race, but he has yet to win.

The farewell tour of Frankie Dettori has been rolling around Europe this season. There are international destinations to be visited, which could include a stop at Flemington for a final attempt to win the Melbourne Cup - a race that has evaded the Italian's all-conquering career so far.

Melbourne Cups Past

Dettori has ridden in the Melbourne Cup on 17 past occasions, yet to do better than finish second. Central Park, Max Dynamite and Master Of Reality have all passed the post in that position for Dettori, though the last named was subsequently demoted to fourth.

Max Dynamite and Central Park went under by half a length, so Dettori has been within touching distance in the final 100m on more than one occasion. Central Park had almost a perfect front-running ride, run down in the last 50m for a heartbreaking loss for the Godolphin team. 

Max Dynamite was the opposite, never quite getting there as the line came. The horse would return two years later to finish third with Zac Purton in the saddle. Master Of Reality was closer still, beaten a head at the line before being demoted to fourth after causing interference.

Ebor Handicap

The widest barrier draw was no concern for Absurde, with Dettori keeping his mount wide with one other in the race's early stages. Being on the outside of the group allowed Dettori to get onto the rail closest to the stands in the home straight, which looked to help his cause.

Said to need cover, Dettori arguably kicked for home earlier than he should have done with more than 400m still to run, but his mount was game and kept finding under pressure when the favourite Sweet William came to challenge him late on. 

It is the mark of a very smart horse to grind out a win still when things have not entirely gone according to the plan through the run. Just the 16th start in the career of the five-year-old gelding, it would not be a shock if he still had a little further progression to come. 

Can Absurde win?

Max Dynamite, who Dettori finished second on in 2019, was trained by Willie Mullins, the same man responsible for Absurde and Vauban, who is favourite with most horse racing bookmakers for November's race.

In the Copper Horse Handicap at Royal Ascot in June, Absurde was second to Vauban, though he was a long way adrift, Vauban saluting by seven and a half lengths. They were racing off level weights on that occasion, so Absurde will need a good few kilos from that rival if he is to reverse the form judged on that performance alone.

That said, it is fair to think that Absurde improved on that run at York, which was only his fourth for Mullins after arriving from the Chantilly yard of Carlos Laffon-Parais. They also had vastly contrasting run styles - Vauban got a soft lead while Absurde was out the back, gifting his stablemate at least as far as he was beaten at the line.

Almost 300 Group 1 wins have adorned the sparkling career of Frankie Dettori. 2023 has already been a year of massive success for the popular Italian, and with him riding as well as he has ever done, adding a Melbourne Cup success would add the cherry to an already spectacular cake.