Farewell to Ascot

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  • There was ample consolation for the Godolphin operation following their aggravatingly disappointing time at Epsom: they notched up six winners at Ascot, their best to date, including Refuse to Bend, who was a surprise victor in the Queen Anne Stakes on Tuesday. The colt now has an impressive career record with Group 1 wins as a two-, three- and four-year-old.

    Dettori’s final total of winners was double that of his nearest rivals, Jamie Spencer and Kieren Fallon, with the royal meeting proving particularly frustrating for the latter, who ended with three wins and six seconds!

    It is the fifth time that Dettori has taken home the London Clubs Leading Jockey of the meeting trophy, and although with six wins he did not beat his 1998 record of the Magnificent Seven, two Group 1 wins (Punctilious and Refuse to Bend), made it a memorable week.

    “Five days and a winner every day, two Group 1s and a couple of Group 2s, and six successes in all. It has been a very progressive spring after hard work during the winter, and now we are picking the fruit off the tree”, said the Italian jockey.

    “Well done to the whole team across the board because I am getting all the glory, but they did all the work,” he added.

    While Dettori bathed in Ascot glory, he did well to avoid an injury as he delighted crowds time and time again with his flying dismount, as the ground took its toll on equine competitors.

    Mr Dinos, who had been hot favourite for the Gold Cup on Thursday is said to be a casualty, and is now expected not to race until the autumn and one or two trainers complained that it was “unsafe”, and were looking forward to a new watering system being put in place.

    Even for Sheikh Mohammed and Godolphin, the week was something of a roller coaster. While Dettori cruised to glory on Papineau in the Gold Cup, one of Godolphin’s two other runners, Highest, who was a close seventh behind the favourite Mr Dinos, had to be put down after he ruptured a tendon in the race.

    This year’s meeting will be the last Royal Ascot as we know it. The racecourse is to undergo a £180m redevelopment, which was already responsible for the course not looking itself quintessential self. The royal meeting is due to be uprooted to York next year, with remaining fixtures during the 20 month project yet to be finalised.

  • For a full report of racing from Ascot, see this week’s Horse & Hound, out Thursday 24 June
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