Veteran Italian jockey Lanfranco ‘Frankie’ Dettori has ridden his fair share of Group One winners in his career – nearly 250 at the last count, including a personal best tally of 17 in 2019 – and has the distinction of being the most successful jockey in the history of the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe. Indeed, in the last three decades, Dettori has ridden in every renewal of the most valuable race in Europe bar 2013 – when a broken ankle sustained in a fall at Nottingham four days before the race prevented him from riding impressive winner Treve – and performed his trademark flying dismount at Longchamp, and Chantilly, six times.
Dettori recorded his first victory in 1995, aboard undefeated Cartier Three-year-old of the Year, Lammtara, trained for Godolphin by Saeed bin Suroor, following the tragic death of his original trainer, Alex Scott. His second and third wins came in rapid succession, on two more Godolphin acquisitions, Sakhee in 2001 and Marienbard in 2002, both trained by Saeed bin Suroor. However, having ended his association with Godolphin a decade later, Dettori had to wait until 2015 to ride his fourth ‘Arc’ winner. That year, he teamed up with his old ally John Gosden to win on Cartier Horse of the Year, Golden Horn, and in 2017 and 2018 recorded back-to-back victories on Enable, for the same trainer.
Along with the Byerley Turk and the Darley Arabian, the Godolphin Arabian was one of the three so-called ‘foundation’ sires, which originated on the Arabian Peninsula and to which every modern thoroughbred can trace its pedigree. The origin of the Godolphin Arabian is unclear, but the stallion is believed to have been given, as a gift, to the King of France, Louis XV, by the Bey of Tunis. Although still not known as such, the Godolphin Arabian was subsequently acquired by Englishman Edward Coke, who sent him to Longford Hall, Derbyshire in 1729. ‘Ye Arabian’, as he was listed in the studbook, stood at Longford Hall until the untimely death of Edward Coke, at the age of just 32, in 1733.
In his will, Edward Coke bequeathed his stallions, including the Godolphin Arabian, to his friend, and bloodstock agent, Roger Williams. Later the same year, the Arabian was acquired by Francis, Second Earl of Godolphin, and sent to stand at his stud in Gog Magog, near Stapleford, Cambridgeshire; thereafter, the stallion became known as the ‘Godolphin Arabian’. The Arabian remained at Gog Magog until his death in 1753 and quickly established himself as a leading sire; his notable offspring included his first foal, Lath, and Cade, Regulus and Blank, all of whom proved to be champion sires in their own right.
Cambridge-born James Doyle is the son of former trainer Jacqueline Doyle and the younger brother of Sophie Doyle, now a successful jockey in the United States. He rode his first winner, Farnborough, trained by Richard Price, in a lowly Class 6 apprentices’ handicap on the then Polytrack surface at Wolverhampton in June, 2005. Nowadays, Doyle is best known as former stable jockey to Wilthshire trainer Roger Charlton, whom he joined in 2012, and retained jockey for Godolphin, whom he joined in 2015.
Doyle recorded his first British Group One victory on Al Kazeem, trained by Charlton, in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot in June, 2013 and his second, on the same horse, in the Coral-Eclipse at Sandown Park less than three weeks later. He has since won numerous Group One winners on British soil, including the Prince of Wales’s Stakes twice more, on Poet’s Word in 2018 and Lord North in 2020, the St.James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot twice, on Kingman in 2014 and Barney Roy in 2017, and the Sussex Stakes at Glorious Goodwood, again on Kingman in 2014.
For all his success at the highest level, Doyle has yet to win a British Classic, although he has won two on the opposite side of the Irish Sea. The first of them came courtesy of Cartier Horse of the Year, Kingman, in the Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh in 2014 and the second courtesy of Sea of Class, trained by William Haggas, at the same venue in 2018.
Having narrowly missed out on the Flat Jockeys’ Championship, 165-161, to Paul Hanagan in 2011,
Brazilian-born Silvestre De Sousa was announced as a retained jockey for Godolphin in February, 2012. De Sousa had apparently impressed Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, founder of Godolphin, and his racing manager, Simon Crisford, while riding for North Yorkshire trainer Mark Johnston the previous season.
De Sousa relocated to Newmarket to ride alongside stable jockey Lanfranco ‘Frankie’ Dettori and, when Dettori announced his decision to ride on a freelance basis in 2013, became prinicipal jockey to Saeed Bin Suroor at Godolphin Stables. However, by May, 2014, the writing was on the wall for De Sousa as Bin Suroor switched his affiliation to veteran jockey Kieran Fallon, 49, of whom he said, ‘ I’m happy to give him a chance in all the big races’. Bin Suroor proved true to his word and the following November, when William Buick and James Doyle were appointed Goldolphin jockeys, De Sousa lost his retainer altogether.
Nevertheless, De Sousa bounced back from his sacking by Goldolphin in no uncertain terms. He won the Flat Jockeys’ Championship for the first time in 2015, with 132 winners, finished runner-up to Jim Crowley in 2016, with 148 winners, and won the jockeys’ title again in both 2017 and 2018, with 155 and 148 winners, respectively.