Royal Ascot: Frankie Dettori turns back the clock as jockey races to four wins

Stradivarius' second Gold Cup victory in two years among veteran Italian jockey's four successes at Ascot Racecourse

ASCOT, ENGLAND - JUNE 20:  Frankie Dettori makes a flying dismount from Stradivarius after winning The Gold Cup on day three of Royal Ascot at Ascot Racecourse on June 20, 2019 in Ascot, England. (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images for Ascot Racecourse)
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Frankie Dettori was once again the toast of the Royal Ascot festival after riding the first four winners of the six-race card on Thursday.

Dettori, who secured a double on Wednesday by guiding Raffle Prize and Crystal Ocean to victories in the Queen Mary Stakes and Prince of Wales's Stakes respectively, was successful atop another horse trained by Michael Stoute as he won the featured Group 1 Gold Cup on Stradivarius.

Stoute is also the handler for Crystal Ocean.

On Thursday, Dettori won aboard A’Ali, Sangarius and Star Catcher. But riding Stradivarius to victory - it was his second Gold Cup win in a row - has to be the highlight of the evening.

The Italian jockey kept the five-year-old son of Sea The Stars close behind race leaders Dee Ex Bee and Master Of Reality until they turned for home in the two-and-a-half-mile race. Dettori was briefly short of room as Capri kept Stradivarius in a pocket in the straight with Dee Ex Bee and Master Of Reality in front, but fortunately for Dettori, a gap appeared.

Stradivarius then showed his class by pulling clear of the pair for a length’s verdict.

“What an amazing horse he is,” Dettori said. “He got me out of trouble and people love him.

“I’m only nervous because the people care so much about this horse. It is a wonderful story for [owner] Bjorn Nielsen, the stable and every time he runs, he delivers. It’s unbelievable."

Trainer John Gosden paid tribute to Stradivarius, who has stretched his unbeaten run to seven and taken his career victories to 11 from 16 starts. “He rode a beautiful race and Frankie managed to wriggle through,” Gosden said.

“The horse is very classy. Full marks to a remarkable horse and it is all down to the horse. I know Frankie sometimes says 'it's me' but it's all the horse.”

In more ways than one, Dettori turned back the clock 23 years after his 'Magnificent Seven' performance on the same racetrack. He set the ball rolling by clinching the Group 2 Norfolk Stakes atop A’Ali, trained by Simon Crisford, who Dettori collaborated with plenty of times while at Godolphin.

“I spent the best part of nearly 30 years working with him," Dettori said. "We've both gone our separate ways and this brings back some great memories. I'm really delighted for Simon and the family; he's been great to me in all my career.”

Crisford himself conceded being unable to "put the win into words".

He said: “Frankie is the go-to jockey when you really need somebody – he was available and gave the horse a super ride.”

The go-to jockey was back in the winner’s enclosure aboard Stoute’s Sangarius in the Group 3 Hampton Court Stakes, as well as on Gosden’s Star Catcher in the Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes.

He narrowly missed on a fifth winner,  in the Britannia Stakes, when Biometric - under Harry Bentley - got the better of Turgenev in the silks of Princess Haya of Jordan.

“Twenty years ago I'd have won that," Dettori said, before adding: "He [Turgenev] gave me a great spin. I've had a great day and I'm not going to cry.”