THERE may have been no trademark flying dismount as part of his celebrations, but the smile on the face of Frankie Dettori said it all after he was crowned leading jockey at Royal Ascot.
Having wowed the crowds with some scintillating displays throughout the week, the ever-popular Italian showed why he is still among the very best in the business in claiming the prize for the first time since 2004, with a final tally of seven winners, which equalled his personal best.
After drawing a blank on the first afternoon, the 48-year-old hit back with a double on Wednesday, highlighted by Crystal Ocean in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, before making all the headlines with his fabulous four-timer on Thursday, which featured a second Gold Cup win for Stradivarius.
Only one more winner materialised for the three-times champion jockey across the final two days, courtesy of Advertise in the Commonwealth Cup on Friday, but despite ending the meeting as it started it was not to dampen the mood of a jubilant Dettori, who led Ryan Moore by two at the start of the final day.
It is now six titles for Dettori, who said: “I’m back, it’s been a long time. It’s unbelievable. Three Group 1s and a superb Thursday, I’m stuck for words.
“I thought if Ryan wins the first (on Saturday), he will be fired up for some of the others. When the first one got beat I thought we will just take it one race at a time. I didn’t have much and I thought he struggled with his rides apart from the first one.
“I started the week with Too Darn Hot getting beat and I was really down and I thought it could be one of those weeks.
“Then it all picked up on Wednesday with the Prince Of Wales’s, then you know the rest with super Thursday. We made headlines for all the right reasons, which was fantastic, and winning the Gold Cup with a fantastic horse.”
While Dettori had to wait 15 years to claim his sixth title, he has had some near-misses in that time and believes it was not only the horses but those in the stands that helped him over the line on this occasion.
Dettori said: “A couple of times I’ve finished close, but Ryan has got so much firepower with the domination of Coolmore. This year he hit the crossbar several times and I had a super Thursday and that is what made the difference.
“I didn’t have Enable or Calyx, but I picked up Crystal Ocean and Advertise, so it works out. I think the magnificent Thursday with the crowd behind me made all the difference.”
While Moore saw his quest for a sixth straight Qipco-sponsored title, and ninth in total, ended by Dettori, there was no stopping Aidan O’Brien from claiming a 10th top trainer crown following his five winners, one more than his 2018 total.
O’Brien said: “I’m delighted and privileged. We had chances coming here, but that is all you can ever have coming here and that is all you can expect, as it is very competitive in every race.
“I’m delighted for the lads and everybody at home for their hard work.
“It does get the heart pumping for everybody as there is nowhere like walking into the winner’s enclosure at Royal Ascot for anybody having anything to do with a flat horse.
“This is the pinnacle and the atmosphere is incredible and this is where everyone wants to be. We get great pleasure out of everybody enjoying it so much and getting that enjoyment out of it.”
Looking back on his winners, the Ballydoyle trainer said: “I suppose the Coventry winner Arizona was very good and Circus Maximus was very good in the St James’s Palace Stakes, as they were two very big ones on the first day, while Japan was also very impressive.
“Circus Maximus had a good run at Chester and ran very well in the Derby. It is a very difficult thing to do, to come back from a mile and a half back to a mile here and it is a very important race for a three-year-old.
“You would have to take your hat off to him really.”