ASCOT – Frankie Dettori stole the show at Royal Ascot Thursday when he gave Colour Vision an inspired ride to win the Ascot Gold Cup, the feature race at the five-day fixture.
The jockey chose his favorite racecourse to emphasise the enduring quality of his riding skills with a textbook performance aboard Colour Vision.
Always well placed in a race run at a pedestrian gallop, Dettori drew every last ounce from his willing partner in a scrambling finish on rain softened considerably by persistent downpours.
He also surprised many when he chose to ride Colour Vision ahead of Opinion Poll, who finished runner-up in the last two Gold Cup renewals – and filled the same berth here.
Dettori will forever associated with Ascot as a result of his “magnificent seven” winners in 1996.
Much has changed in the intervening 16 years but the Italian remains at the top of his profession.
Mickael Barzalona, whose recruitment as Dettori’s understudy fanned rumors of the latter’s retirement, delivered Opinion Poll with a well-timed challenge to head Colour Vision inside the final furlong.
But Dettori rallied his mount, bumping Barzalona in the process, before pulling away for a half-length triumph. Saddler’s Rock finished a neck behind Opinion Poll in third place.
Colour Vision’s victory also brought his trainer, Saeed Bin Suroor, to a prominence he enjoyed before Mahmood Al-Zarooni, who saddled Opinion Poll, took over most of Sheikh Mohammed’s better horses two years ago.
The sheikh, meanwhile, was delighted to notch up his first championship triumph in Britain this year.
The plaudits belonged to Dettori, who was riding his 46th winner at Royal Ascot.
The beaming smile he wore as he rode into the winner’s circle told of his frustration at a slow start to the campaign by Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation.
An illustration of that challenge came just 40 minutes before the Gold Cup, when Barzalona rode the sheikh’s sole runner in the Ribblesdale Stakes.
Dettori looked on idly from the weighing room as Barzalona’s mount,
Kailani, cut little ice in a race won with great ease by Princess Highway.
The winner, ridden by Pat Smullen, is trained in Ireland by Dermot Weld.
She proved far too good for The Fugue and Shirocco Star, who had filled the minor places in the Oaks at Epsom three weeks earlier.
The Queen’s runner, Momentary, never showed with a chance.
Ireland thus continued its strong showing at the meeting – and there was effervescent joy in the German camp after Energizer’s victory in the Tercentenary Stakes.
Ridden by Adrie de Vreis for trainer Jens Hirschberger, Energizer’s triumph represented a first for any German horse at Royal Ascot. — AFP