Dubai: Frankie Dettori showed just why he is perhaps the greatest jockey to have ever graced the turf with a stunning display of horsemanship on day three at Royal Ascot, a day when the incomparable Italian swept the first four races on the card and very nearly won the fifth!
Twenty-three years after he pulled off the near-impossible feat of winning all seven race on a day at Ascot in September, the 48-year-old Dettori struck a purple patch before an ecstatic crowd at the Berkshire track.
Dettori began the day on an ominous note, powering the Bahrain-owned A’ali to victory in the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes before adding the Hampton Court Stakes (G3) and Ribblesdale Stakes (G2) to his tally with Sangarius and Star Catcher.
The stage was by then set for an epic Gold Cup (G1), the most famous race at the five-day Royal Meeting, and Dettori rose to the occasion to deliver an imperious ride aboard the world’s best stayer, Stradivarius for an unbelievable fourth victory.
Trained by John Gosden, Stradivarius became the 10th horse to win the Ascot Gold Cup two or more years in succession since 1946 (Yeats won it four years in a row between 2006-2009, and Sagaro three times between 1975 and 1977).
Bred and owned by Bjorn Nielsen out of the great Sea The Stars, Stradivarius looks on course to win a second successive £1 million WH Stayers’ Million Bonus last year having already bagged the Group 2 Yorkshire Cup in May.
Epsom Derby (G1) runner-up Dee Ex Bee attempted to make it a staying contest as he led for most of the two-mile and four-furlong trip staying on gamely for second ahead of outsider Mast Of Reality, with Godolphin’s Melbourne Cup hero, Cross Counter fourth for James Doyle.
Dettori was thrilled to pieces and basked in the adoration that he received on his return to a heaving winner’s enclosure at Royal Ascot before he bowed to receive a trophy from Queen Elizabeth II.
“What a horse, he got me out of trouble. He’s the horse for the big occasion and people love him,” the Italian told ITV Racing.
“It’s great for everyone connected with the horse — every time he runs he delivers.
“He doesn’t know how to lose and all I have to do is get him among the others and he does the rest. He is fantastic horse and he does the rest — and what a trainer.”
John Gosden paid tribute to both Stradivarius and Dettori, saying: “When he gets into the final at Wimbledon he (Dettori) raises it to another level. He rode a beautiful race.
“He did the clever thing (as) he was drawn two and thought, ‘I will save ground all the way and wait for the gap’.
“It was a long wait, but the horse is very classy. It is not his favourite ground but he has just shown his style and he can quicken on that ground,” Gosden added.
“Full marks to a remarkable horse and a sometimes remarkable, mercurial jockey.
Dettori was denied a fifth victory by Harry Bentley and Biometric in the Britannia Stakes (Heritage Handicap) and had to settle for second aboard Turgenev.