King Of Steel provided Frankie Dettori with the perfect send-off as they combined for a fairytale success in the Qipco Champion Stakes at Ascot on Saturday.
Roger Varian’s Derby runner-up was the Italian’s final mount on British soil before jetting off for his new venture in California and they proved a match made in heaven in the British Champions Day feature.
Dettori’s historic achievements at Ascot need no introduction, but it is also the scene of some of King Of Steel’s finest performances this term, including a victory in the King Edward VII Stakes at Royal Ascot.
Placed towards the rear of the field as a lit-up My Prospero took the field along, Dettori had to be at his very best as he steered the son of Wootton Bassett from last to first.
The duo still had plenty of ground to make up as the final furlong loomed, but the stamina reserves of the 3-1 favourite kicked into top gear when it mattered most, to ensure the Dettori swansong got its ultimate conclusion and the crowds burst into raptures chanting the Italian’s name.
Owned by Amo Racing, King Of steel came home three-quarters of a length clear of George Boughey’s filly Via Sistina, with French raider Horizon Dore back in third.
Dettori said: “It’s emotional really, I don’t know what to say. I cannot believe it, the crowd have been sublime. I was doing my best on top and the scream that I got was just incredible, thanks to all of you.
“To win this race is fantastic. It was all in the script! It’s unbelievable. I know don’t know to feel, I don’t know if it’s real. It’s incredible.
“I struggled from the beginning, I couldn’t get him to travel and he was stumbling. Then I decided to get behind Mickael (Barzalona, on Horizon Dore) as I thought he was on the horse to beat, but then I though Oisin was looking good.
“He just found a second wind and he dug deep and the crowd were behind me. The last 100 yards I thought I was going to get there, not before then!
“What a feeling, the crowd! For the first race I thought the crowd were good but they took it to another level, it was honestly incredible.
“It’s a fairytale ending to me, Ascot is my home. I’m pretty emotional to be honest, but happy tears!”