Frankie Dettori is dominating Royal Ascot for a second consecutive day, winning the first four of Thursday’s races including the Gold Cup on the hot favourite, Stradivarius. Amid tumultuous celebrations in the crowd, bookmakers are running scared of the possibility that the Italian may go through the card here for a second time, 23 years after the first.
It would be marginally easier this time, as there are only six races each day at Royal Ascot, compared to the seven he won here on a Saturday in September 1996. Dettori’s two remaining mounts have been backed down to favourite, Turgenev being cut to 2-1 for the Britannia, while Questionare is 11-4 for the King George. Both were 14-1 this morning.
“What an amazing horse he is,” Dettori said of Stradivarius. “He got me out of trouble. He’s a horse for the big occasion.”
Sent off at even-money in the betting, Stradivarius was thoroughly boxed in by rivals at the turn for home and the cheers from the stands faltered as it seemed he might never get room to make his challenge. But as the front-running Dee Ex Bee tired on the rail, Stradivarius found room towards mid-track and stretched forwards.
At the line, he had just a length in hand, which will not go down as the chestnut’s best performance in the form book. But the adversity he overcame means this dual Gold Cup winner’s reputation is significantly enhanced.
The winning trainer, John Gosden, hailed Dettori as “mercurial but remarkable” and expressed gratitude that the jockey had “managed to wriggle through”.