A punch of the air, a flying dismount and a blown kiss to the owners. Frankie Dettori marked what was effectively his first day in 18 years as a freelance rider on Wednesday with a celebration more befitting of a Group One event than a maiden race on a low-key Newmarket card.
Riding for the first time since the announcement that he will terminate his retainer with Godolphin at the end of 2012, Dettori came away with a victory aboard Goodwood Mirage for John Dunlop.
"Frankie is not just world class, he's top of the world class. I'm sure he will be employed by many people with huge success for many years to come," said the retiring Dunlop, who confirmed reports that his training business had entered voluntary liquidation, describing the last couple of months as "quite traumatic".
Dettori, 41, plans to be in action again at Doncaster , but will fly out to the US next week to ride Artigiano for Godolphin in the Breeders' Cup, further evidence that the relationship between Dettori and his former employer remains amicable – for the time being, at least.
Artigiano was one of 24 European-trained entries unveiled at the pre-entry stage for the meeting, nine of which were supplied by Aidan O'Brien.
Alongside the widely expected likes of Excelebration and St Nicholas Abbey were Fame And Glory, set to make a belated debut on dirt in the Breeders' Cup Marathon, and the Turf Sprint contender Starspangledbanner. The first-named trio could all potentially be making their final starts for the stable with stallion careers beckoning, although O'Brien said such matters are beyond his remit.
"It's not a decision for me really, I'd love to have a horse like Excelebration next year, but a lot of people are looking for him now," he said, before offering confidence over the four-year-old's chances in the Mile.
"There's no such thing as a good thing at the Breeders' Cup but he has got bigger, rounder and stronger and we have learned a lot with him as we have gone along.
"When we were running against Frankel we were testing him but when we knew Frankel was going to going down a different road, we kind of put together what we learned. He's a fast horse who can cope with all kinds of ground."
Notable this year was a decrease in the entries for the juvenile contests, subject for the first time to tightened rules on medication that will ultimately lead to a complete ban on the use of Furosemide (formerly known as Lasix or Salix) at the 2013 meeting.
With three of the nine horses holding entries in the Juvenile Fillies' contest designated as having preferred engagements in other races, the final field could be as low as six, matching the smallest line-up in Breeders' Cup history.
However, the Breeders' Cup chief executive Craig Fravel understandably defended the risk of smaller fields as being worth the ultimate pay-off.
"There are a number of possible reasons as to why people might not want to enter their horses. Some owners and trainers might have an aversion to taking on the likes of Executiveprivilege [the Juvenile Fillies favourite], who looks a tremendously strong filly, in her own backyard," he said.
"Some guys have indicated that they have an issue with the Lasix question but it is a policy which is in the long-term interests of breeding and racing, both now and in the future.
"We want the Breeders' Cup races to be about sportsmanship and competition and the more we can talk about that rather than having medication questions to deal with the happier I'll be."
Having been promoted to become the penultimate contest for the first time last year as a result of Goldikova's bid for a Breeders' Cup hat-trick, the Mile is to remain in the same position before the Classic.
Excelebration is a best-priced 7-4 favourite for the race, ahead of the local hope Wise Dan at 7-2.
Other races in which the Europeans look to hold particularly strong hands include the Juvenile Turf, in which James Doyle is to ride Dundonell for Roger Charlton, and the Turf, for which Alain de Royer-Dupre will send Shareta to join O'Brien's pair, St Nicholas Abbey and Treasure Beach.
O'Brien said that the fact that fast turf can be almost guaranteed at Santa Anita – compared to other tracks that have played host to the Breeders' Cup – has made it easier for him to plan his team, his largest yet, for the meeting.
"It can't be fast enough for St Nicholas Abbey and Treasure Beach, especially Saint Nick," he said.
"Up [who runs in the Filly and Mare Turf] loves the quick ground too and she doesn't get much of it here.
"Running Fame And Glory is a little bit of chance, I suppose. He's just got a little bit clever. When the going gets tough he's happy to curl up and not try very hard. We'll probably run him in a visor.
"Will he handle the dirt? He bends his knees a little bit, so we're hopeful but it's obviously an experiment."
O'Brien said that Starspangledbanner, who returned to racing in the summer after suffering fertility problems as a stallion, was "kind of starting to come right again now".
"There's a chance he might run at Dundalk on Friday then head off with the others early next week," he said. "He hates soft ground and considering that, I don't think he has been running too badly. But we think he's nearly there again now."
Hopes that betting and racing could find greater future accord were given a boost when the details of the Levy scheme for 2013 were agreed on Wednesday, in advance of the deadline. The estimated total yield to racing is £72.9m, a £500,000 increase achieved as a result of the recent deal agreed between the British Horseracing Authority and Betfair.
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