THERE were many entertaining sub-plots around the great racing and top-class performances at Royal Ascot.
John Gosden has on many occasions seemed the voice of logic and reason on many of the divisive topics in racing, and his insights to training horses is always something to absorb.
However, he made headlines in a different manner last week over two days of public grumbling on a few of his stable jockey’s rides. And that came to a head on Thursday when Dettori was not put on the stable runners this weekend.
Gosden’s comment “our hero overcomplicated it” on his Gold Cup ride caused a few pricked ears by its tone. Did Gosden think Frankie gets things his own way too much? Was there a path that we missed to where we are today?
Stradivarius and Dettori didn’t get the run of the race in the 2021 Gold Cup at Ascot but it’s unlikely that he would have beaten Subjectivist then.
Frankie didn’t have a great day at the British Champions Day last October either, not covering himself in glory when he publicly and wrongly blamed Dylan Browne McMonagle for interference in the Long Distance Cup. He was later subjected to some Gosden grumbles over the ride on Palace Pier, beaten after Baaeed seemed to get first run in the QEII. The trainer saying there was “too much looking around” from the jockey and “Frankie said the pace was slow - he regrets not committing earlier.”
Dettori also lost the Oaks earlier in June by a very small margin on the Gosden-trained Emily Upjohn. He was ahead two strides before the line but Ryan Moore snatched it from him.
Some claimed the Gosden filly unlucky as she lost ground at the start. But I didn’t subscribe to that opinion. There was a slow early pace that enabled her to move close to Tuesday, who was also slowly away, without too much exertion.
Tuesday ran the first four furlongs in 60.03 sec to Emily Upjohn’s 60.28secs and Thoughts Of June’s 58.85sec. Moore was simply stronger in that last half furlong and rode out to the line.
It did appear that Dettori made a blunder though in trying to remove Lord North’s blindfold in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes by pulling it back not up and over the horse’s head. There is even a strap on the top of the hood to assist this. Claiming it got stuck in the bridle (it looked to be sitting loosely over the horse’s head on the TV pictures) was pushing the blame elsewhere.
The debate was would Stradivarius have won the Gold Cup with a different passage in the straight? In my opinion, no, despite Gosden’s annoyance.
Stradivarius is now eight and had two colts in Kyprios and Mojo Star against him who were of the classic generation last season. The winner was holding him all at the finish, after Stradivarius was pulled wide to challenge.
Stradivarius ran the last three furlongs in 11.62, 11.66 and 11.81secs. Kyprios did 11.73, 11.69, 11.72secs.
Gosden said: “I was bit surprised from having been in the box seat that we dropped back so far. The problem is when they sprint, you had to come wide to get a run and he had to come widest of all.” Was he pulling back the winner enough though?
The difference between the Gold Cup and the Coronation Stakes on Friday which Dettori won was, of course, pace. There was not a lot Dettori could do in the Gold Cup by the time they turned into the straight.
Cachet had opened up the Coronation Stakes field by that point in the fillies’ race. The Gold Cup had been slowly run and a few lesser fancied horses were still ‘in the way’ on the bend.
Gosden also criticised Dettori’s ride on Saga on the Thursday and it definitely looked that over a straight mile, it took him a long time to get a run through and he was beaten a head. That was the Queen and Bjorn Nielsen out of favour! Perhaps it was an accumulation of incidents that brought the comments last week. After a few ‘quieter’ years, Ryan Moore is at the top of his game this year too and shone at Ascot.
Perhaps it was Dettori’s attitude afterwards that added to the annoyance and brought things to a head. And he has often looked too casual in the finish over recent years. Throw Lady Aurelia at York in there too.
Gosden too can keep things to himself when the need arises too. Back when Enable was going for her second Arc, all was reported to have gone to perfectly plan after her winning reappearance at Kempton. She won that Arc, only just and Gosden then said: “I had a slight hiccup between Kempton and here. She had a temperature and missed a piece of work.”
It later was revealed that she had caught a chill and missed a week’s work. None of this made the news before the race, but the trainer escaped any criticism for withholding that information.
His excuse at the time was that he needed Frankie to have full confidence in the filly. It seemed odd at the time not to have your jockey in full benefit of what had gone on in the preparation.
The public criticism last week was a surprise - not the best confidence building tactic. But opinions have obviously been forming in private. If the partnership is coming to an end, it’s a shame where that inevitably leads as Gosden and Dettori were a wonderful match.