Dettori adds to strong hand as he guns for third straight Royal Ascot crown
Frankie Dettori has added the final touch to a stellar book of rides that he hopes will see him crowned top jockey at Royal Ascot for the third year in a row.
Dettori rides the two shortest-priced favourites of the meeting in Palace Pier and Stradivarius, so it is no great surprise that Betfair, Coral and Paddy Power have installed him as their 6-4 favourite to top the table yet again at the end of the week.
And the last piece of the Dettori jigsaw might have been provided by Dermot Weld, who has snapped him up for Falcon Eight, who looks set to be a warm order for the Queen Alexandra Stakes, the final race of the week.
Dettori won the Chester Cup on Falcon Eight last month and Weld has said he got a "huge kick" out of that late surge to win a race he had gone close to winning previously.
Weld told the Racing Post: "Falcon Eight runs in the Queen Alexandra and Frankie is already booked. I have to admit I got a huge kick out of the Chester Cup, I really did. I had gone so close to winning it before, a short head one year, and it was a race I always wanted to win.
"The Queen Alexandra is the logical place to go next. He stays very well so the trip should be fine for him. His rating was too high for him to run in the Ascot Stakes. He's been in great form since Chester and I'm very happy with him."
Dettori has 73 Royal Ascot winners on his CV, more than any other present-day rider, but he has ridden sparingly this year with just 59 rides. Among those have been a pair of Classic wins on the Aidan O'Brien-trained Mother Earth and Snowfall.
As well as Palace Pier (Queen Anne) and Stradivarius (Gold Cup), Dettori will be on Prince of Wales's Stakes favourite Lord North, who is seeking back-to-back wins in the Wednesday showpiece. He also rides 6-1 second favourite Artos in the Queen Mary on the same afternoon.
The 50-year-old will be on Commonwealth Cup market leader Campanelle on Friday as well as Albany favourite Flotus.
Paddy Power's Paul Binfield said: "Despite John Gosden being very pessimistic about his Classic generation, the master of Clarehaven will be providing Frankie with a number of brilliant rides among his older horses including Palace Pier in the Queen Anne and Stradivarius in the Gold Cup.
"The Italian also has the backing of Wesley Ward and maybe Ballydoyle as well and for that reason we have him at the front of the market. This is usually a very popular market the closer it gets to Tuesday. Last year there was a surge of money from Sunday onwards."
Falcon Eight will not be Weld's only runner at the royal meeting as the master of Rosewell House is hoping to be represented by Dalton Highway in the Ascot Stakes, currently number 23 on the confirmations list.
A maximum field of 20 can feature in the 2m4f contest and Weld faces an anxious wait to see if his contender makes the cut on Sunday.
Weld said: "Dalton Highway is on the borderline for the Ascot Stakes. If he gets in he will run. Colin Keane is booked and he's in great form."
Hightimeyouwon is entered in both the Buckingham Palace Stakes and the Wokingham Stakes, but a final decision on his participation has not been made yet.
One horse who will definitely not be running at Royal Ascot next week is Search For A Song.
Considered by many to be a live outsider in the Gold Cup on Thursday, she will not take up that assignment or in the Hardwicke Stakes either and will wait for the Curragh Cup on June 27 instead.
Explaining the decision, Weld said: "We're taking a long-term view with one eye on the Irish St Leger later in the year. It would be a wonderful achievement if she could win the race for a third year in a row."
Weld famously won the Irish St Leger four times in a row with Vinnie Roe between 2001 and 2004.
Royal Ascot top jockey
Coral: 6-4 Frankie Dettori, 13-8 Ryan Moore, 5 Jim Crowley, 12 Oisin Murphy, William Buick, 16 Hollie Doyle, 25 Andrea Atzeni, James Doyle, 33 Tom Marquand
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