Frankie Dettori stole the show once more at Royal Ascot

Royal Ascot: Frankie Dettori top jockey and John Gosden top trainer


Frankie Dettori's stunning Saturday stole the leading rider award from Jim Crowley, while John Gosden was the leading trainer at Royal Ascot for the second time in his career.

It's now seven top jockey awards for Dettori after six winners throughout the week, a tally which had stood at three before a Saturday hat-trick for three different trainers turned the tide.

Gosden was the last of them to benefit from a sprinkling of Dettori stardust, as victory for Palace Pier in the St James's Palace Stakes confirmed his place atop the trainer standings and put Dettori to the top of the rider standings.

The Italian remained there after Jim Crowley came up short in both the Diamond Jubilee and the Queen Alexandra, having earlier been denied by 150/1 shot Nando Parrado when riding Qaader to second in the Coventry.

Still, it was a productive week for the former champion jockey, who started it with five Royal Ascot winners to his name and ended it with more than double that - even if he did have to give best to the man synonymous with the meeting.

This was no ordinary Royal Ascot, a feeling underlined when Nando Parrado became the biggest-priced winner in its history, but while there was little in the way of pomp and ceremony, and nothing in the way of spectators, some things remained the same.

Dettori just rides this place like nobody else and showcased the full repertoire on an absorbing final day, first biding his time on a Wesley Ward-trainer speedball, then going for a daring run on the inner to land the Coronation Stakes, before overcoming a tactical assault from Ballydoyle in the St James's Palace.

It was an exhibition of top-level riding and was deservedly rewarded, not only with a leading rider title but also the final absentee from Dettori's collection of Group One prizes at the meeting, as Alpine Star impressed in the Coronation Stakes.

Dettori had never won the race before, and no rider in history has won both that race and the St James's Palace in the same day. At least, they hadn't: now, it's simply another record for the masterful Italian, who turns 50 later this year.

"What a day!" he said. "I woke up this morning thinking I had some great rides. I really fancied Wesley Ward's filly [Campanelle] and I fancied Jessica Harrington's [Alpine Star]. Palace Pier was in at the deep end but I thought that if things dropped right, he could have a chance.

"It has been an unbelievable day and an unbelievable Royal Ascot. To come out of here with six wins is not easy. You can sit back and say what you want, this will win and that will win, but you still have to go out there and do it. I've had some great ammunition with all different owners and trainers, and it's been a successful and fun week for me."

On being asked what it meant to equal Pat Eddery's total of 73 Royal Ascot winners, Dettori replied: "I sat next to Pat for 15 years; he was one of my heroes, I used to nickname him 'God' and to equal him gives me great satisfaction, God bless him."

As for Gosden, victory for Palace Pier capped a week which began with disappointment but soon accelerated through the gears, Frankly Darling rubber-stamping her Oaks credentials and Lord North grabbing his first Group One, before the star of the show arrived.

That star was Stradivarius, and how he lived up to the billing to win the Ascot Gold Cup for a third year in succession, emulating Sagaro and earning the opportunity to return next year and bid to match the record of Yeats, four times a winner of the meeting's blue riband event.

"It's a wonderful achievement for British racing and Ascot and it is a great testament to how we can all act together," said Gosden. "We've done it safely, behind closed doors and bio-secure. We do have the advantage of also being in open, massive spaces. We have to be very proud of ourselves.

"I was hopeful for three winners, maybe four. Six is way beyond expectations. Full marks to my staff throughout lockdown. They have all come in and no-one has missed anything. They had the option to stay at home and be furloughed but none of them did. They wanted to come in and be with the horses - it's all down to the staff."

It may not have been an ordinary Royal Ascot, but in the end it was dominated by two extraordinary men who, now veterans of the parade ring and the weighing room, remain at the very top of their respective professions.

"I've conquered Royal Ascot," proclaimed Dettori. For once, an understatement from one of the sport's great showmen, and greatest talents.

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