Frankie Dettori: Ascot is my place and I love it
Published 17/06/2015 | 19:00
Emotion overflowed for Frankie Dettori as he celebrated another magnificent milestone by clinching a 50th Royal Ascot winner with a last-gasp success aboard Osaila in the Sandringham Handicap.
In what has already been a season to savour for the 44-year-old, having won the Derby aboard Golden Horn before following up just over a week later with Star Of Seville in the French Oaks, the popular Italian again confirmed he is riding at the peak of his powers with a narrow win in the colours of his boss, Sheikh Joaan Al Thani.
The triumph for Dettori comes 15 years after his first taste of victory at the meeting aboard Markofdistinction in the Queen Anne Stakes, and sees him join Lester Piggott (116), Pat Eddery (73) and Willie Carson (56) as those to ride 50 or more Royal Ascot winners.
Sitting in the middle of the pack for the early part of the race, Dettori was still on the bridle aboard the Richard Hannon-trained top-weight two furlongs out.
Chances of victory for the 13-2 shot looked to have been dashed when the door was slammed shut on Dettori as he tried to weave his way past the previously unbeaten favourite Always Smile and the pace-setting Sulaalaat.
But as Always Smile drifted badly to the left inside the final furlong it handed Osaila, who was by now in the clear, another chance to get on terms, one which her rider was not to pass up, denying the 2-1 market leader by a nose.
Dettori, who delighted the Ascot faithful with his trademark flying dismount, said: "I feel great, especially as it is for my boss (Sheikh Joaan) and he's here. This was one of my best rides this week and it came off
"Sheikh Joaan saved my career and I'm very grateful, Ascot is my place and I love it.
"I think she got too hot in the Guineas, perhaps we overshot the target but it doesn't matter now.
"I was quite happy this morning, but then everything went wrong, Euro Charline wouldn't go in the stalls and I felt it was going to be one of those days.
"It's all OK now, I've got it off my back.
"James (Doyle, on Always Smile) tried to get first run on me, but she stuck to it really well.
"Fifty is a big number, to join the greats like Lester Piggott and Pat Eddery means a lot.
"I was getting a bit worried because I had some good rides today, but now I've done it."
Harry Herbert, racing manager for Al Shaqab, said: "He's riding at the top of his game. He looks great and is as hard as nails.
"He's had his 50th Royal Ascot winner and had the year of all years.
"It just shows in any sport when your confidence is up anything can happen. It's wonderful working with him. His enthusiasm and his professionalism is absolutely fantastic and he's deserves every bit of it."
Having suffered frustration earlier in the day with Ivawood, Hannon was delighted to see Osalia back to winning ways and leave behind her 1000 Guineas disappointment.
Hannon said: "We always thought she was very good, but she didn't run her race in the Guineas.
"We've got her back now, she put on a lot of weight, she travelled really well and is obviously a very good filly.
"She's very brave and she battled well as the other filly had gone clear.
"She's seen out the mile really well but she does have a lot of speed which always worries me when we ask her to go a mile.
"Royal Ascot winners are worth 10 of any other winners.
"She's won two Group Threes and a Listed race now and there's no question she'll go back there (Group One level)."
Doyle was handed a two-day ban by the stewards for using his whip in the incorrect place.