Stradivarius has Dettori rocking, Crowley eyes record


London (AFP)

Frankie Dettori says he is looking forward to the day when he is in his rocking chair recalling Stradivarius's stunning third successive Ascot Gold Cup victory, becoming only the third horse to achieve that feat.

The 10-length romp in Royal Ascot's most historic race on Thursday made a nonsense of Dettori and trainer John Gosden's concerns over the soft ground.

Indeed, 69-year-old Gosden greatest worry in the end was the manner in which Stradivarius took to him and his aftershave when he was saddling him before the race.

The irrepressible Dettori ignored the lack of atmosphere, with the meeting behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic, by performing his trademark flying dismount.

Jim Crowley at 34 may be 15 years younger than Dettori but his knees might be buckling if he also did flying dismounts, after a double took him to six wins for the week.

The 2016 champion jockey has Ryan Moore's modern day Royal Ascot record of nine wins in his sights with two more days to go.

The manner in which Stradivarius destroyed the field has opened up the possibility of a clash with the other stable superstar Enable in October's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe. albeit admittedly over a far shorter distance.

"One day when I am sitting in my rocking chair, to say I rode the horse who won three Gold Cups in a row -– that's a big number," said Dettori.

"I am very proud of it."

Gosden said whether he returned next year to try and emulate Yeats's record of four Gold Cups in a row was not up to him.

"I am not sure, that's (owner) Bjorn's (Nielsen) decision -- the way he liked my aftershave I am not sure!" said Gosden.

"He (Stradivarius) is a bit of a mate, as he lives below the guest bedroom.

"When Bjorn Nielsen comes to stay and opens the window, Stradivarius is just there looking at him."

- 'Could hear my Nana shouting!' -

Both Crowley's wins came for trainer Roger Varian, who had a treble on the day.

Crowley's easy win on Khaloosy in the Britannia Handicap also saw COVID-19 and cancer charities benefit with bookmakers pledging profits from the race to them.

"Six winners is the stuff of dreams," said Crowley. "It is the hardest place to ride winners."

Asked whether Moore's modern-day record could tumble Crowley replied: "It isn't impossible."

Varian and Crowley also picked up the Group Three Jersey Stakes with Molatham while James Doyle won his third race of the week with Varian's Mountain Angel in the Wolferton Stakes.

"I will pinch myself and wake up soon!" said Varian of his treble which took him to top of the trainers' table with four winners.

There was a sense of deja vu in the Sandringham Handicap as Hayley Turner triumphed for the second year running for trainer Charlie Fellowes on Onassis -- like their winner Thanks Be last year -- a 33/1 outsider.

"I thought, it is not going to be the same (without crowds), but actually I am buzzing just as much as last time," said Turner.

"I was just hoping everyone at home was cheering. I could hear my Nana shouting!

"It is still an Ascot winner -– still the same race, same grade of horses."

Father and son triumphed in the first as training partnership Paul and Oliver Cole's 20/1 shot Highland Chief prevailed in the Golden Gates Handicap.

Cole senior had 21 winners in his own right prior to teaming up with his son but was unable to be present for their high-profile victory.

"Sadly, my father is at his best friend's funeral today (Ben Leigh), which is why he didn't come," said Oliver Cole.

"I did say to him today I thought we'd get an Ascot winner."