Stradivarius calls tune in Gold Cup to crown brilliant Dettori four-timer
The last thing you would want going into yesterday's Gold Cup was the sight of Frankie Dettori walking out to the paddock with an invincible swagger, thinking he is 6ft 7in tall, looking for his fourth consecutive winner of the day.
It was an unfair advantage for the Stradivarius team. Dettori has always excelled at Ascot but when he gets on a roll he is almost unstoppable. Few sportsmen, let alone jockeys, have thrived like the Italian on confidence. That process probably began as soon as he started reading yesterday's newspapers after Wednesday's double.
With him, one winner often becomes two, and then two becomes three. Most famously, it became seven at this course in September 1996. With him, the first snowball should always be followed by an avalanche warning.
With victories on A'Ali, Sangarius and Star Catcher - none of them favourite - secured, there was a certainty about Stradivarius's second victory in the world's biggest Flat staying race, even when he was hemmed in a pocket two furlongs out by Capri.
The jockey remained patient. Capri's stamina emptied like wind from a punctured balloon and he dropped away. The gap appeared and Stradivarius, the evens favourite, quickened through it with that most prized possession of a Cup horse - acceleration.
Stradivarius may wear his heart on his sleeve but he will never win by 10 lengths. The evens favourite came home a comfortable length clear of Dee Ex Bee, with the 66/1 shot Master Of Reality running a stormer in third.
"The first three races are a blur," exclaimed an ebullient Dettori afterwards. "He is an amazing horse, he is now unbeaten in his last seven starts. He has won two Ascot Gold Cups, his heart is bigger than his body. He does not know how to lose. All I have to do is have him in the right place, then put him in the fight."
Having praised the horse enough, the jockey, with faux arrogance, turned the focus on himself, joking with the media that he had told Chris Stickels (clerk of the course) that he might have to erect another statue of him.
Second in the Britannia Stakes and unplaced in the King George V Stakes, Dettori had to settle for four on the day, a feat not achieved at the meeting since Lester Piggott in 1965. Hard as it is to imagine anyone bettering Dettori at Royal Ascot, Fred Archer still holds the record of five in a day back in 1878, the year he rode 12 winners from 24 rides.
Twist 'n' Shake's odds for today's Coronation Stakes have tumbled, with Dettori due to take the reins. However, Hermosa and Ten Sovereigns are poised to mop up the two Group Ones on the card for Aidan O'Brien, succesful in yesterday's finale with the Seamie Heffernan-ridden South Pacific (22/1).
If there is a fly in Ten Sovereigns' ointment it might be Hello Youmzain, who showed plenty of speed at Haydock on his return to sprinting and he is potentially very good.