Three Wins and Gold Cup for Frankie Dettori out of Six Races
As with all the other days of the meeting, there are six races. Obviously, The Gold Cup is the main course for the day, and as said, many would argue for the week. Eleven horses were entered, headed by the charismatic Stradivarius trained by John Gosden. Going for his second £.million bonus in consecutive years, the horse was always going to start as favourite. Of the other ten runners, four were trained by the O’Briens, (three for Aiden and one for his son Joseph) of which Flag of Honour was judged to be the best of the four. French trainer Mme Pia Brandt sent over Call to the Bar with Maxime Guyon to ride. The five year old gelding has won six races including his last start over 1 mile 7 furlongs, a Group 2 at Longchamp, his last start. Another horse of note was Dee Ex Bee, fancied to give trainer Mark Johnston his first Epsom Derby last year, but was second in the race. The bay colt has won both of his starts this year. The final possible pick is the Godolphin owned Cross Counter, trained by Charlie Appleby. With only one run this year the four year old gelding won a Group 2 in Dubai in March.
The first three races were all claimed by the star jockey Frankie Dettori. He won the two year old Norfolk Stalks over five furlongs riding the Simon Crisford trained A’Ali by Society Rock out of a Motivator mare. In second was Venture Rebel and third was Dubai Station. The second race, the Hampton Court Stakes for 3 year olds over 1 and a quarter miles, Frankie Dettori was again the winner riding the John Gosden trained Sangarius. In second came Fox Chairman, the 7/2 favourite and third was King Ottokar. In the third race, The Ribblesdale Stakes, otherwise know as the ‘Ascot Oaks’, a Group 2 contest, was again won by Frankie, this time riding the John Gosden trained Star Catcher. In second was Fleeting, the O’Brien trained favourite and third was Sparkle Roll, again trained by Gosden.
Now for the big one of the day. Frankie Dettori on the evens favourite Stradivarius, and after his first three wins, surely he would score again on such a good horse. A sudden change of jockey was announced shortly before the race in that the French horse Call to the Bar was to be ridden now by Oisin Murphy. The reason was that Maxime Guyon missed his flight from France.
At the off, the eleven runners started steadily in the drying ground, (which made it a bit holding) and Dee Ex Bee took the lead and two by two the runners came up the straight for the first time, down to Swinley Bottom and then into the final straight, Dee Ex Bee still in the lead and the favourite Stradivarius well boxed in. Will he manage to find room to race? Suddenly, a space opened as Capri fell away and ‘The Strad’ could be ridden out. Frankie made no mistakes and he duly won by about a length from Dee Ex Bee who ran a very game race, nearly from pillar to post. In third place was Master of Reality, the 66/1/ outsider trained by Joseph O’Brien and ridden by Wayne Lordan. The second home was trained by Mark Johnston and ridden by Silvestre De Sousa. The winning owner Brian Neilson, John Gosden and of course Frankie Dettori were presented the Gold Cup by The Queen.
The penultimate race of the day, the first of the day’s handicaps, The Britannia Stakes, Frankie was on Turgenev who started the day at 16/1, but after the first four races, the ‘Frankie factor’ stepped in big time and they were sent off 7/2 favourite. In the race, Turgenev was very prominent on the stand side. Into the final furlong of this mile contest, Frankie was well in the lead, but no! The Ralph Beckett trained Biometric, sent off at 28/1 came up from well behind and pipped Frankie at the post. This gave jockey Harry Bentley his first ever Royal Ascot winner.
The final race of the day was The King George V Stakes, a second handicap, this time over one and half miles. There were 19 runners. Aiden O’Brien, not to have to go home empty handed from the day had the first three home. First was South Pacific, second was Constantinople and third was Eminence. Nearly another geography lesson!!!!