Frankie Dettori sent shockwaves through bookmakers when winning the first four races at Royal Ascot on Thursday.
But just when it looked like a modern-day repeat of the Italian’s ‘Magnificent Seven’ of September 1996, when he won all seven races on the day at Ascot, was looming large, he just failed in the fifth race of the day, when Turgenev was caught close home by Biometric.
The hugely-popular Italian kicked off his afternoon with Al'Ali in the Norfolk Stakes for Simon Crisford, before winning the Hampton Court aboard the Michael Stoute-trained Sangarius and the Ribblesdale Stakes with John Gosden's Star Catcher.
It was then all eyes on the Gold Cup, where Dettori again emerged victorious through Gosden’s defending champion Stradivarius.
Gosden said: “This 47-year-old kid [Dettori] takes this to another level, like a Wimbledon semi-final and final. He’s riding quite beautifully. He occasionally listens to me, but not too much.”
In winning his seventh successive race, Stradivarius created his own little piece of history – although those who took the even money had a little anxious moment early in the straight.
For once Dettori appeared to be in the wrong place as he was stuck behind horses, with Dee Ex Bee still in front alongside Master Of Reality, but as soon as a gap appeared the chestnut was through it like a shot.
Dee Ex Bee battled back for second, just pipping Master Of Reality.
“What a horse, he got me out of trouble,” said Dettori. He’s the horse for the big occasion and people love him.
“It’s great for everyone connected with the horse – every time he runs he delivers.”
Asked if he could go through the card, he replied: “I did it in 1996, so you never know.”
But it was not to be, as Turgenev – who was available at 20-1 in the morning but returned at 7-2 – was denied by the Harry Bentley-ridden, Ralph Beckett-trained Biometric (28-1) in the Britannia Handicap.
Dettori said: “20 years ago I would have won that!
“He was 16-1 this morning, went off favourite and he gave me a great spin. I’ve had a good day so I’m not going to cry.”
Asked if he knew Dettori was in front, Bentley said: “I did actually. I’ve probably upset a few people there. I’m probably not the most popular winner of the day.”
Ascot’s official bookmaking partner Betfred breathed a huge sigh of relief, along with the whole industry.
Spokesman Mark Pearson said: "Frankie riding the first four and especially getting a tune out of Stradivarius in the big one was very costly.
“However every bookie is going to bed tonight relieved because if Frankie had done the unthinkable it would have been the biggest pay-out in bookmaking history.”