Dubai: Frankie Dettori produced his trademark ride aboard the exciting Godolphin-bred filly, Raffle Prize, to win the opening Group 2 Queen Mary Stakes on day two at Royal Ascot.
One of the most highly regarded juvenile races for fillies, the five-furlong dash was contested by a big field of 28 runners, with several contenders boasting strong claims, including the favourite Final Song, who was racing out of Saeed Bin Surour’s Godolphin Stables in Newmarket.
However, it was Raffle Prize, who outsprinted the John Velasquez-ridden American raider Kimari in a contest run in steady rain at the Berkshire track.
No disrespect to Lester Piggott, but isn’t Frankie Dettori just the greatest jockey?
Final Song, the mount of big-race Belgian jockey Christophe Soumillon, ran on for third place with less than a length separating the first three home.
Dettori, who was notching up a 61st Royal Ascot winner, told ITV Racing: “When I saw Wesley’s (Ward) horse upsides, I thought oh my God, he’s a good friend of mine, if I beat him, he will go crazy!
“My filly was very brave. She jumped good and I knew she had won over six furlongs, so when I saw Wesley’s filly I decided to take her on early,” he added.
“I knew that if it was a test of stamina she would give in sooner or later and in the final 200 metres I saw her stride start to shorten. I knew I had her.”
61Royal Ascot wins for Dettori following Wednesday’s Queen Mary success
Raffle Prize raced in the colours of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, who has several horses in training with the North Yorkshire-based Scottish trainer Mark Johnston.
“People are always asking you about your Royal Ascot chances,” said Johnston, who saddled his 44th Royal Ascot winner. “They are all effectively maiden winners running here. There’s nothing with a great deal of form to go on. All you can do is run your best horses at the time.
“We thought she deserved to be here, but you can’t say how good she is in relation to the others. We thought she had a great chance.”
Johnston also went so far as to pay Dettori the ultimate tribute.
“No disrespect to Lester Piggott, but isn’t Frankie Dettori just the greatest jockey?” he said, smiling from behind dark sunglasses.
“Frankie was a true professional as a young jockey back in 1993, and I know he is a superstar — on the big day he’s special!”
Ward, for whom Dettori won the Queen Mark with aboard Lady Aurelia in 2017, was gracious in defeat and said: “Frankie did me in. I was very concerned about the rain, but obviously she likes the soft, so that is a good thing moving forward.
“You don’t know which ones like the soft, but it shows she liked it, as did Lady Aurelia.”
Meanwhile, Oisin Murphy and Dashing Willoughby won the Queen’s Vase while Crystal Ocean claimed his first Group 2 success in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes, the feature event on Wednesday.