Frankie Dettori produced another front-running masterclass in the saddle as Star Catcher gave him a fifth win this century in the Kerrygold Irish Oaks at the Curragh.
Supplemented for 40,000 euros at the confirmation stage by owner Anthony Oppenheimer, the John Gosden-trained filly was allowed her own way in front.
Dettori was able to dictate the pace virtually from the outset on the Ribblesdale Stakes winner, from Peach Tree and Manuela De Vega.
Quickening three furlongs out, Star Catcher (7-2) held a healthy advantage until the Aidan O’Brien-trained Fleeting put in a strong late effort.
However, Star Catcher pulled out more to win by a half a length, confirming the Royal Ascot form. Pink Dogwood, also from the O’Brien stable, was four and a half lengths back in third.
Gosden, who won the Investec Oaks at Epsom with Anapurna, said: “When I suggested supplementing her to Mr Oppenheimer he was very brave and said, ‘go for it if you think it’s right’, so he gave me full support.
“I think Frankie was aware his filly showed her best in the last furlong of the Ribblesdale and he was determined not to see a falsely-run race.
“He’s gone out there, set his own fractions, and quickened off the bend. With a tailwind in the straight, but a headwind in front all the way down the back.
“That’s Frankie, you leave him alone when he has a plan and he can go to Plan B usually quite quickly.
“He has the courage to do that, which comes from years of experience and having a clock in your head.
“He rode a quite beautiful race and confirmed the Ribblesdale form (with Fleeting).
“She’s a lovely filly and she’s really done well since Royal Ascot. It just seemed an obvious thing to come here. This is a Classic, it’s a Group One and it’s the Irish Oaks.
“They do close these races too soon in my opinion, which is why I never have entries in them and I always end up having to supplement if I have something good enough.
“It’s no fluke and we’ve always liked this filly. I couldn’t believe it when she was beaten first time out at Chelmsford.
“We probably didn’t go strong enough in the mile-and-a-quarter Listed and she got collared.”
When asked if the Yorkshire Oaks was possible, Gosden said: “There is Coronet, Lah Ti Dar, Anapurna and maybe even Enable.
“She’s a fabulous filly and she’s won a Classic, that’s all it’s about.
“She’s out of a good mare and is by Sea The Stars, who to me is a phenomenally good stallion.
“This is a mile-and-a-half filly. Maybe later in the year the Prix Royallieu or Prix Vermeille could be options.”
Gosden heaped further praise on Dettori.
“We’ve been lucky to have him,” said the Newmarket handler.
“He’d be the first to tell you that he went through some difficult times, mostly self inflicted but one specifically not.
“He’s a wonderful person to be around. He’s like family with us.
“He’s a gorgeous rider and knows his horses. When he’s with you working them in the morning he nearly wants to train them, so I have to calm him down.”
Dettori said: “The vibes at home were good. John is a great trainer and he had a good feeling about her.
“Unfortunately we had to supplement her, so we put our neck on the block a bit, but we knew she was good enough to do justice to herself. It was a good effort.
“Once Seamie (Heffernan) on the obvious front-runner (Peach Tree) couldn’t make the front I thought, ‘I’m going to make my own way home’.
“Then it was a matter of getting the fractions right and having a tailwind in the straight helps a front-runner and that was the case.
“I felt Fleeting coming to me, but in fairness I could have gone a little bit further. I don’t think she’d have passed me.”