Gold Cup hero Stradivarius gives Dettori a 60th Royal Ascot winner

Hunting Horn and Magic Wand give Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore a Thursday double

Frankie Dettori celebrates as Stradivarius takes the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot. Photograph: Nigel French/PA

Frankie Dettori celebrates as Stradivarius takes the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot. Photograph: Nigel French/PA

 

Frankie Dettori conjured virtuoso puns galore with a scintillating Gold Cup success on Stradivarius at Royal Ascot on Thursday.

The 7-4 joint-favourite proved too good for France’s Vazirabad, with Torcedor in third, in a driving finish to the historic Group One marathon. Order Of St George, the other joint-favourite, could finish only fourth.

That was a blow on an otherwise productive day for the Aidan O’Brien-Ryan Moore team who’d earlier won with both Hunting Horn (Hampton Court Stakes ) and Magic Wand in the Ribblesdale.

It was an especially significant afternoon for Moore who passed the half-century mark of Royal Ascot winners.

The Englishman’s public face is famously diffident and since he’s a good friend of Dettori there was probably no one happier to see the veteran Italian respond so flamboyantly in the big race by reaching his own landmark figure of 60 Royal Ascot successes.

Hunting Horn and Ryan Moore take the Hampton Court Stakes. Photograph: John Walton/PA
Hunting Horn and Ryan Moore take the Hampton Court Stakes. Photograph: John Walton/PA

The Gold Cup has contributed six of those 60 over the years and Stradivarius met the new challenge of the two and a half mile trip in a style to compare with any of the staying champions of the past.

One of the youngest horses in the race raced with a little too much vigour off a sedate early pace, a tempo that didn’t suit the 2016 winner Order Of St George who’d appeared mulish on the way to the start and was in trouble before the home turn.

But for a doubtful stayer doing that little bit too much it was perfect. It also helped to have the oldest and most experienced rider on his back.

“And I’m only 47!” joked Dettori afterwards, milking the vast ‘Ladies Day’ crowd for all he was worth and after Tuesday’s hat-trick once again living up to his status as racing’s great showman.

Moore has a dozen years in hand of Dettori and with the power of Coolmore behind him it is probably only a matter of time before he statistically passes out his rival here.

Magic Wand crosses the line to take the Ribblesdale stakes at Royal Ascot. Photograph: Paul Childs/Reuters
Magic Wand crosses the line to take the Ribblesdale stakes at Royal Ascot. Photograph: Paul Childs/Reuters

By any other measure though the Italian remains a unique figure and it is the sport’s good fortune that he still figures despite being ‘only 47.’

Stradivarius’s trainer John Gosden playfully despaired at the idea of “Frankie in his fifties.”

But both men have noted the veteran American jockey Mike Smith winning the US Triple Crown on Justify at age 52. It’s little surprise then that Dettori’s response to recent retirement rumours was a defiant ambition to ride for at least five more years.

Since stayers sustain that could make Stradivarius a Group One stalwart for his rider over the coming years.

However the little colt christened ‘Mighty Mouse’ by Gosden has more immediate ambitions, with a £1 million sterling bonus on offer if he also lands the Goodwood Cup and York’s Lonsdale Cup later this season.

Magic Wand is closely related to the former Irish Oaks winner Chiquita and could attempt to emulate her in next month’s Curragh classic.

Fourth to her stable companion Forever Together at Epsom, Magic Wand emphatically reversed that Oaks form with Wild Illusion on a fast surface.

“Forever Together might go back to the Pretty Polly (Irish Derby weekend) and this filly might go for the Irish Oaks. And then they might both head for the Arc or something like that,” O’Brien forecast.

 The 25-1 Ballydoyle double was initiated by Hunting Horn who was an authoritative Group Three runner after finishing out of the money in the French Derby.   

“He can go to France for the mile and a half (Grand Prix de Paris.) He can go to the Eclipse - he ran well in Sandown in the Trial. He has a lot of options,” O’Brien reported.

Wesley Ward and Joel Rosario repeated their 2013 Norfolk Stakes victory with No Nay Never when the filly Shang Shang Shang beat her male rivals in a desperate finish from Pocket Dynamo.

Even in defeat though it could still be all about Dettori. The jockey couldn’t secure a clear run on First Eleven in the concluding King George V Stakes and wound up an unlucky third to Baghdad.

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