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Ascot delight for Harrington as flying Frankie lands treble


Frankie Dettori guides Alpine Star to victory in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot yesterday. Photo: Megan Ridgwell/ Reuters

Frankie Dettori guides Alpine Star to victory in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot yesterday. Photo: Megan Ridgwell/ Reuters


Frankie Dettori guides Alpine Star to victory in the Coronation Stakes at Royal Ascot yesterday. Photo: Megan Ridgwell/ Reuters

A 150-1 winner of the Coventry Stakes might have been the biggest shock in betting terms in the history of Royal Ascot but there was no surprise about the star of the show: Frankie Dettori.

Had you backed the jockey's winners in an accumulator it would also have been 150-1 but a somewhat more predictable 150-1 shot than Nando Parrado's in the third race. The semi-joke before the meeting began was that Dettori, the big-occasion jockey, might not be up for a Royal Ascot run behind closed doors with a smaller audience than you might expect at a village football match rather than 80,000 punters baying his name.

But on the final day of the strangest of Royal Ascots, racing's greatest showman - as he so often has - turned it into a Dettori day, proving he does not just run on applause by winning the Coronation Stakes on the Irish filly Alpine Star, the St James's Place on Palace Pier and, initiating it all, the Queen May on Campanelle.

At the end of five days his six winners at the meeting meant he was crowned leading rider for the seventh time and he now sits equal with the late Pat Eddery on 73 Royal winners. Even if he rides for another 10 years - racing will hope he does - he will struggle to beat Lester Piggott's 116.

Dettori, 49, is always worth a few pounds on the back of a winner, so after Campanelle's victory he went out full of confidence on Jessica Harrington's Alpine Star, stuck to the inside throughout, got the splits when he needed them and galloped all the way to the line to beat the US runner Sharing by four-and-a-half lengths.

"I've been riding Ascot for 30 years but, for one reason or another, I've never won the Coronation before," said an ebullient Dettori after completing the full set of Ascot's Group Ones.

"Jessie offered me the ride 10 days ago when it became clear her jockey couldn't come over. [Alpine Star] had a good draw, she hit a flat spot, I got a good split up the rail, she's a wonderful filly who won it in good style. She's up there with the best around.

"Now I can say I've won every Group One at Ascot. It's a big tick of my boxes. I can now say I've conquered Ascot completely."

Dettori was equally effective taking the outside route on Palace Pier in the St James's Place. That is the difference between the good and the brilliant - knowing when and when not to go down the inside.

Billed as a rematch between the Guineas second and third, Wichita and Pinatubo, last year's champion two-year-old managed to reverse that form, just. But neither horse could cope with Palace Pier staying on down the outside to win by a cosy length.

"What a day," said Dettori. "We always thought a lot of him but he got a bit sleepy at home and we had our heads scratching. John [Gosden] thought 'let's start him in a handicap at Newcastle' to see if it woke him up and it did. We threw him in the deep end today."

US raider Campanelle's victory in the Queen Mary Stakes gave the meeting an international, other than Hibernian, flavour. Less blast and go than some of Wesley Ward's other 10 winners, the filly was virtually last early on after falling asleep in the stalls.

But Dettori, Ward's old mucker, was content to sit and watch on as his rivals went hard. Two out he found himself travelling well before going on to win by three quarters of a length.

Meanwhile, Make A Challenge rounded off a thrilling day for trainer Denis Hogan, giving away weight all round to land the Listed Sole Power Sprint Stakes at Naas two hours after Sceptical finished third in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.