Dettori the master string puller wins sixth Gold Cup

Pirate IRWIN
AFP

London (AFP) - Superstar Frankie Dettori produced a sublime ride on Stradivarius to bring up his sixth win in the week's most historic race the Ascot Gold Cup and 60th at the meeting.

The 47-year-old Italian -- who received his trophy from Queen Elizabeth II as well as a saddlecloth with 60 on it -- provided the perfect antidote for him and trainer John Gosden after the crushing disappointment as the odds on Cracksman was beaten in Wednesday's Prince of Wales's Stakes.

For Stradivarius's owner Bjorn Nielsen this win could lead to a £1 million (1.4 million euros, $1.32 million) bonus should the four-year-old colt win the Goodwood Cup and the Lonsdale Cup later this season.

Dettori, who won his first Gold Cup with Drum Taps back in 1992, had to work hard for the win, battling back after French raider Vazirabad had briefly headed him inside the final furlong (200 metres).

"What a brave horse! He is a lion," said Dettori.

"My horse just stuck his head out and it is wonderful to give John (Gosden) his first win in the race.

"After yesterday this is the ideal consolation."

Dettori, who rode a treble for Gosden on Tuesday before they both drew a blank on Wednesday, would not be drawn on whether he preferred receiving the trophy from Prince Harry's wife Meghan on Tuesday or Queen Elizabeth II after the Gold Cup.

"The Queen only presents two trophies, the Gold Cup and the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes," he said.

"So to receive one from her is a magical moment."

Dettori, who joked that the saddlecloth with 60 on it he received from the Queen was dusty after lying unused all Wednesday, said the rumours about retirement, which circulated around the time of the Epsom Derby earlier this month, were wide of the mark.

"I'm still here and you can't get rid of me," he said.

- 'Nothing like winning at Royal Ascot' -


Wesley Ward has been blazing a trail for international runners for a while now, and the American recorded his 10th career win at the meeting in a thrilling finale to the Group Two Norfolk Stakes for two-year-olds.

Joel Rosario managed to just hold on by a neck on Shang Shang Shang -- Ward's seventh two-year-old winner from his 10 victors at the meeting -- as 20/1 outsider Pocket Dynamo powered home under Mickael Barzalona.

Ward -- who had seen a couple of fancied runners including the two-time Ascot winner Lady Aurelia fail to sparkle -- held up his 10 digits to register his landmark.

"There is nothing like winning at Royal Ascot, beamed Ward.

The big disappointment was the favourite Vintage Brut, who cost Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha, the Thai owner of Leicester City, £280,000 on Monday at the Goffs sales in London -- one of several purchases as he spent big just as he had done the previous year and with similarly poor results.

A race later, not even the combined super talents of Dettori and Gosden could conjure up a decent run for Srivaddhanaprabha's Main Street in the Group Three Hampton Court Stakes.

It was Ryan Moore and Aidan O'Brien who collected the prize with the impressive Hunting Horn, who made up for his disappointing sixth in the French Derby, and brought up his jockey's half century at the meeting.

"Fifty-one would mean a lot more," quipped the 34-year-old Englishman and seven times leading jockey at Royal Ascot.

Moore's wish was granted just over 40 minutes later as he steered Magic Wand to a convincing success over Godolphin's 9/4 favourite Wild Illusion in the Group Two Ribblesdale Stakes to more than compensate for her fourth spot in the Epsom Oaks.

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