Sports

Dettori and Gosden put on show fit for for a queen

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

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ASCOT, United Kingdom (AFP) - Cracksman's stunning defence of his Champion Stakes crown brought the English season to a suitably glorious climax for the remarkable partnership of Frankie Dettori and trainer John Gosden on Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday.

Gosden who saw his prize money for the season soar to close to 8 million (US$10.4million) — also collected the Group One Queen Elizabeth II Stakes with Qatar Racing Limited-owned Roaring Lion, ridden by Oisin Murphy, under the admiring eye of the British monarch herself who presented the trophy.

Dettori had earlier ridden champion stayer Stradivarius to victory in the opening race of the card for Gosden, the duo's only disappointment was favourite Lah Ti Dar's third in the Fillies and Mares race.

Cracksman, though, produced the most scintillating performance, one his peerless father (sire) Frankel, who also won two races at Champions Day (2012/13) would have been proud of as he surged clear to win by six lengths making up for his disappointing run at Royal Ascot in June.

“That is the old Cracksman back, he felt fantastic!” purred 47-year-old Dettori.

“What a horse he is, I love him dearly.

“He was very lethargic in the summer like one of those ponies of your kids; you have to drag it everywhere.

“Today though, I was really able to enjoy the scream of the crowds in the final furlong and raise my arm in the last 100 yards.”

Roaring Lion produced a really gutsy display with Murphy having to pull out all the stops to get past outsider Century Dream and then repel the suitably named I Can Fly who came from the clouds but the post came just too soon for her.

Gosden said Roaring Lion's victory was due to sheer courage on soft going he patently did not enjoy.

“He has proven his class and guts to get there, but I think he was hating every second of running on the ground,” said the 67-year-old, who because of the ground had switched Roaring Lion from the Champion Stakes on Thursday.

For Murphy, who has had a terrific season riding for the Qataris, celebrations will be muted.

“I'm riding in Italy tomorrow, but my mother is here and I'll leave her to do the celebrating for me,” said the Irishman.

Aidan O'Brien earlier spoiled the Gosden/Dettori party when Magical, one of astonishingly six runners the Irish trainer had in the 11 runner field, won the Fillies and Mares Stakes bouncing back from her 10th place in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe a fortnight ago.

Dettori had looked well placed to triumph as he hit the front with the favourite Lah Ti Dar but unlike her owner Andrew Lloyd-Webber's musicals she struck a flat note and was passed with ease by Ryan Moore on Magical and Gosden's other runner Coronet.

Moore probably Dettori's equal as a jockey but polar opposite in terms of displaying his emotions said it was a deserved success.

“We always thought Magical was top-class,” said Moore.

“Today was very smooth and she had a lovely run round.”

Stradivarius had got the Gosden/Dettori partnership off to a cracking start as the champion stayer, who had only run after Gosden persuaded the owner Bjorn Nielsen to run on the morning of the meeting prevailed in the Long Distance Cup.

Dettori's riding performance — squeezing through a narrow gap on the inside, according to Gosden, was “Houdiniesque” although he earned a three-day suspension for careless riding in trying to close out runner-up Thomas Hobson in the final furlong.

Dettori punched the air in delight before kissing Stradivarius's neck and performing his crowd-pleasing flying dismount on the winner who was completing a perfect five from five for the season including a 1-million bonus for winning the three principal Cup races.

“We rolled the dice and I'm glad it came off,” said Dettori referring to the ground.

“He is all heart, all horse.”

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