For a while there, it looked as if Frankie Dettori was going to achieve something equally as momentous as his ‘magnificent seven’ all those years ago.
The champion jockey won the first four races of a pulsating Ladies Day at Royal Ascot, and thoughts turned back to his historic seven wins at the festival in 1996.
It had those in attendance and watching on from home hoping for another slice of racing history from the Italian, although the bookies were rather less enthusiastic: if Dettori managed to win all six of the races he was entered in, it would have cost the industry an estimated £180m!
In the end, it was not meant to be, but the jockey still completed a sensational four-timer at 449/1, which some punters were only too delighted to reveal they were on via social media.
Frankie’s Four Has Bookies’ Jaws on the Floor
|2||Hampton Court Stakes||Sangarius||First||13/2||44/1|
|3||Ribblesdale Stakes||Star Catcher||First||4/1||224/1|
|6||King George V Stakes||Questionare||Fourteenth||7/2||9111.5/1|
The day began in triumphant fashion as Dettori guided A’ali, a 5/1 hopeful, home to a comfortable victory in the Norfolk Stakes.
And just 35 minutes later he was at it again, climbing aboard Sir Michael Stoute’s charge Sangarius in the Hampton Court Stakes. He quickened in the final furlong to secure a straightforward win over the favourite Fox Chairman.
The Group 2 Ribblesdale Stakes was next up, and while Frankie’s ride Star Catcher was fancied the 7/4 favourite was Fleeting, trained by the ever-prolific Aidan O’Brien. But the hat-trick was completed when John Gosden’s filly hit the front two furlongs out and never looked like relinquishing her grip.
With his hattrick for the day secured, Paddy Power took to Twitter saying:
“We’ve crunched the numbers and if Frankie Dettori can go through the card at Royal Ascot and ride all six winners it will be the biggest pay out in the history of the company…”
Next up was the outstanding Stradivarius, who was looking to defend his Gold Cup crown in the fourth race of the day. To be honest, all Dettori has to do is point this horse forward and let it run – the win inevitably followed, and Frankie had equalled Lester Piggott’s record of four winners in a day set back in 1965.
The bookies were understandably twitching….he couldn’t, could he?
The next race was the Britannia Handicap, with the jockey aboard Turgenev – a 16/1 outsider at the start of the day who shortened to 7/2 at the off thanks largely to Dettori’s heroics.
The John Gosden horse is a game sort and stayed in contention throughout, hitting the front with a furlong to run. Frankie’s fifth was assured….
It didn’t work out that way, sadly, as he faded towards the line and was headed off by the 28/1 hope Biometric.
And so the bookies lived to fight another day, with the big brands staring at liabilities that would have ensured staff Christmas parties were cancelled up and down the land.