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Afp

Dettori is Royal Ascot's golden boy with sublime four-timer

By AFP
media Two of the personalities that have made Royal Ascot special Queen Elizabeth II and Frankie Dettori shared a laugh after the irrepressible Italian won for the second year running on Stradivarius AFP

Stradivarius ridden by Frankie Dettori crowned a riding master class by the Italian superstar at Royal Ascot on Thursday as he added four more winners to his double from the day before.

Stradivarius is threatening to become as much an equine great as the 48-year-old jockey after becoming the first horse to win successive Ascot Gold Cups since Yeats won his fourth in 2009.

Dettori was labelled by trainer Mark Johnston as the greatest jockey of all time on Wednesday, although many would argue Lester Piggott remains the greatest of all time.

Piggott -- who was present on Tuesday for the unveiling of a statue in his honour -- rode a record 116 winners at the Royal meeting and even with the quadruple on Thursday Dettori's tally stands at 66, some way off the 'Long Fellow'.

Dettori's hopes of emulating his remarkable clean sweep of a seven race card at Ascot on British Champions Day in 1996 were ended in the race after Stradivarius's victory as his mount Turgenev was overhauled by outsider Biometric.

Dettori had Stradivarius in perfect position throughout the Gold Cup -- extra special to all involved as it is the one trophy presented by noted turfiste Queen Elizabeth II.

Once Dettori extracted him from a little bit of trouble in the finishing straight and hit the front there seemed little danger to the John Gosden-trained star stayer.

Dettori performed his trademark flying dismount before modestly praising the horse -- who is on course for a second successive million pound bonus if he adds the Goodwood Cup and Lonsdale Cup at York.

"What a horse, he got me out of trouble," said Dettori.

Gosden, who had got off the mark for the week earlier when Dettori rode Star Catcher to victory in the Ribblesdale Stakes, said both horse and rider were exceptional.

"Full marks to a remarkable horse," said Gosden.

"He's an athlete and he's a charming horse to be around.

"This 48-year-old kid (Dettori) take this to another level, like a Wimbledon semi-final and final.

"He's riding quite beautifully."

Gosden and Dettori go back a long way and it was the Cambridge graduate trainer who offered him a way back after a wayward time which included a ban for taking cocaine.

Gosden, though, said sometimes his mentor-like approach goes in one ear and out the other.

"He occasionally listens to me, but not too much."

Both long time pacesetter Dee Ex Bee and rank outsider Master of Reality stuck to their task but they could not find an extra gear to overhaul Stradivarius.

Melbourne Cup winner Cross Counter had looked full of running coming round the bend but his challenge petered out and he finished fourth.

- 'Used up my luck' -

Dettori had racked up his hat-trick in the Ribblesdale Stakes as he forced home Star Catcher refusing to give second best to the favourite Fleeting.

Dettori had taken the opener the Group Two Norfolk Stakes guiding home A'Ali.

It gave Dettori extra pleasure that the trainer Simon Crisford is an old friend of his, both of them having been employed by the Godolphin Operation.

For the urbane Crisford -- who switched to training in 2014 after leaving his post as racing manager for Godolphin -- it was his second winner at Royal Ascot, having landed the Britannia Handicap last year.

"I'm pleased to get a winner for Simon, I was with him for over 20 years at Godolphin so I'm delighted," Dettori told ITV.

The exuberant Italian was back in the winners enclosure half an hour later after he collected the Group Three Hampton Court Stakes -- the impressive Sangarius getting the better of the favourite Fox Chairman.

"He (Sangarius) had to fight his way out, but I just hope I haven't used up all my luck before Stradivarius (in the Gold Cup)," said Dettori delivering trainer Michael Stoute his 81st Royal Ascot winner.

He clearly had not.

 
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