Frankie wins the ladies’ hearts

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  • Frankie Dettori, the man carrying Godolphin’s first colours was not to be distracted by the parade of fashionable hats and frilly skirts on Ladies’ Day at Royal Ascot, keeping as his main focus the winner’s enclosure, and most importantly, the title of the meeting’s leading jockey.

    The man in royal blue colours got off to a flying start in the second race of the day, the Ribblesdale Stakes, considered by some to be Ascot’s version of the Oaks. Fittingly, Dettori was on his Oaks ride, Punctilious, but today the duo more than made up for their disappointing Epsom performance.

    There was no beating the filly at Ascot today, and as Frankie explained, Punctilious bounced back to her usual excellent form, simply having failed to cope with the undulations of the Epsom course 10 days ago.

    “It was very obvious that she didn’t act at Epsom as her legs were going everywhere. She hated the track but she’s very clever and pulled herself up,” the jockey said.

    Godolphin’s racing manager Simon Crisford was delighted by her win, and looking forward to further success this season: “She’ll have a little break and then we will have a look but she belongs to the cream of the cream and races such as the Yorkshire Oaks and then maybe the US must be considered,” he said.

    Frankie’s winning streak didn’t stop there. In the feature race of the day, the Ascot Gold Cup, which has been part of the rich tapestry of Ascot racing since 1807, his ride Papineau showed an impressive turn of foot in the final furlongs as he took on the French-trained Westerner.

    It had looked as if the ace, which is very much a Godolphin favourite (they have now won four out of the last nine runnings), had gone the way of Sunday’s football, but Dettori’s determination took hold and he overhauled the French colt to take victory.

    “At the five furlong marker I got behind Westerner and I knew he would take me there, and I followed him. I’ve got faith in [Pappineau’s] turn of foot, and the team [Godolphin] said don’t go too soon like you did at Sandown. This horse has got class,” said the Italian jockey.

    While Dettori was all the rage among the crowd, champion jockey Kieren Fallon was suffering at the hands of fate. He got off to an unlucky start in the opening race to be beaten by a neck when on Sheikh Mohammed’s Mystical Land.

    Matters just got worse in the fillies’ Group 2 race, the Ribblesdale Stakes, when he was beaten into third place by two of his greatest rivals, Dettori and Richard Hills, in spite of being on the Sir Michael Stoute-trained favourite, Quiff, and in the Gold Cup, he was well beaten on the hot favourite Mr Dinos

    But revenge was sweet in the final race of the day, the Britannia Stakes. He rode a determined finish on Mandobi to beat the large field over the straight mile, and his please-as-punch expression in the winner’s enclosure said it all: he is back in the running for the title of leading jockey at Royal Ascot, and the battle is likely to turn into something of a scrap from hereon!

      The Ribblesdale Stakes
      1. Punctilious (Frankie Dettori)
      2. Sahool (Richard Hills)
      3. Quiff (Kieren Fallon)

      The Gold Cup
      1. Papineau (Frankie Dettori)
      2. Westerner (Gerard Mosse)
      3. Darasim (Joe Fanning)

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