Frankie Dettori raring to go for the meeting 'that means everything'
Charismatic rider 3-1 second favourite to be top jockey for sixth time
The pain at missing out on Royal Ascot last year coupled with an enviable book of rides next week means Frankie Dettori is hungrier than ever for success at what he described as the "Olympics" of racing.
Dettori, 47, joked he would be “wrapping myself up in bubble wrap” to avoid injury after damaging his shoulder in a paddock accident at Yarmouth last season, meaning he missed winning rides on the likes of Lady Aurelia, Coronet and Big Orange at the royal meeting.
Twelve months on Dettori is poised to take the mount on a number of leading contenders at Royal Ascot and is 3-1 second favourite with bookmakers, behind odds-on market leader Ryan Moore, to claim top jockey honours for a sixth time - a title he last secured in 2004.
“Ascot means everything so not being able to take part last year was hard to take,” Dettori said. “It was a year ago today that I broke my shoulder at Yarmouth and I’m wrapping myself up in bubble wrap to make sure I get [to Ascot]! I’ve got three rides before Ascot; two on Saturday and one on Sunday.
“Royal Ascot is our Olympics. The Derby is one race, after all. But at Ascot it’s 30 races and covers the whole spectrum of distances, ages and sex. It’s very hard to win there and everybody wants to win there.”
Royal Ascot top jockey betting
Ryan Moore 8-11 (Sky Bet, William Hill, Betfred)
Frankie Dettori 3-1 (Sky Bet, William Hill, Betfred, Boylesports)
James Doyle 10-1 (bet365, Sky Bet, Betfair, Boylesports)
William Buick 12-1 (bet365, William Hill)
Jim Crowley 25-1 (bet365, Betfair, Boylesports)
Oisin Murphy 25-1 (Betfair)
Leading Dettori’s chances of a Royal Ascot winner next week is Prince of Wales’s Stakes favourite Cracksman, who has been under the microscope since scrambling home from outsider Salouen in the Coronation Cup at Epsom this month.
The continued scrutiny of the Anthony Oppenheimer-owned four-year-old has started to get to his rider, who took the opportunity to tell the assembled media at a Royal Ascot press conference on Thursday that all was well with the son of Frankel.
“He loves Ascot and if the beast who won the Champion Stakes turns up next week then we’re going to have a lot of fun. His CV is tremendous and you don’t get a rating as high as him without being an exceptionally good horse. I’m as excited as anyone about Wednesday.”
Cracksman is one of a number of contenders representing John Gosden at Royal Ascot, with Dettori set to partner the likes of Coventry Stakes second favourite Calyx, St James’s Palace Stakes favourite Without Parole and Gold Cup second favourite Stradivarius for the trainer.
Dettori said: “Without Parole had had ten days off before his run at Sandown last time and he was rusty. It looks a very competitive St James’s Palace this year – a proper race. He’s got to step up on what he’s done so far but he’s a very exciting horse on what he has done.
“Stradivarius is a bonny horse. He likes fast ground but the Gold Cup is a unique test. We know he gets two miles well but the other half a mile is a long way and we have to see if he can stay. Order Of St George is a champion and will be a hard nut to crack, but we’re taking him on with fresh legs and something a bit different.”
As well as being in demand with domestic trainers, Dettori’s services will be called upon by international trainers David Hayes and Wesley Ward during the course of Royal Ascot.
“I’m also riding Undrafted, who won the Diamond Jubilee a couple of years ago, in the Wokingham and if he’s half as good as he used to be then he’s got a great chance.”
Undrafted’s victory in the 2015 Diamond Jubilee Stakes was Dettori’s second, and most recent, victory in the 6f Group 1, but he has high hopes of gaining a third win courtesy of Redkirk Warrior.
The Australian runner, a winner over 1m2f on his last start at Ascot for William Haggas in 2014, is third favourite for the Diamond Jubilee, and Dettori added: “In Australia the sprinters are what they’re all about. When David booked me at the World Cup to ride him at Ascot I thought he must like this horse a lot.
“He seems to have a lot in his favour and it’s a good ride. I wouldn’t swap him for anything else.”
Frankie Dettori at Royal Ascot
5 Times he has been top jockey: 1997, 1998, 1999, 2003 and 2004.
56 Number of Royal Ascot winners, more than anyone else riding at the meeting next week
4 Winners in 2016 (Galileo Gold, Lady Aurelia, Persuasive and Across the Stars), making it his third-best Royal Ascot
6 Number of times he has won the Queen Anne and Ribblesdale Stakes
7 Winners in 1998
3 Number of times he has won the King Edward VII Stakes in the last decade
28 Years since his first Royal Ascot winner, on Markofdistinction in the Queen Anne
For expert Royal Ascot betting insight and race profiles, order your copy of the Racing Post Royal Ascot 2018 Guide