Racing: Dettori back with a bang

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The Independent Online
Frankie Dettori picked up where he left off at the Royal meeting as he completed an Ascot hat-trick in the opener here yesterday. The Italian won the last two races on Thursday on Windsor Castle and Heritage, missed Friday because of a ban, but made a swift return to the number one spot on Brave Kris in the Fern Hill Rated Handicap.

The day in the sin bin did not stop Dettori picking up the London Clubs Trophy for the Royal meeting's leading jockey - which he received from the Queen Mother between the first two races - and he returned to a spirited reception after his victory on the Luca Cumani-trained filly which, because of his presence in the saddle, was the choice of many in the quest to scoop the massive pounds 472,701.73 Tote jackpot on offer.

But reality was soon to impinge on most dreams. In the second race, the five-furlong Palan Handicap, the apprentice Tony Whelan drove the 25-1 outsider Prince Dome home by a neck from one of the day's bankers, the heavily backed 9-4 favourite Bishops Court. It would have been flattering to call the applause that welcomed the jackpot buster desultory, and it was poor recognition of the trainer Martyn Wane's biggest winner and the shrewd mathematical calculations that produced it.

On his previous run Prince Dome had finished four and three-quarters of a length behind Bishops Court when the pair were third and sixth at York. Wane reasoned: "We had a 6lb pull in the weights today, including Tony's 3lb claim, which gave us a couple of lengths back. We had a bad draw last time, and the jockey that day wasn't too hard on him once his chance had gone, which I reckoned was worth another couple. It was worth having a go."

If anyone knows the score in sprint handicaps, it should be Wane, who owned Glencroft, winner of a record nine of the ilk in a season, before taking out a licence to train at Richmond four years ago. Prince Dome, a three-year-old gelding, was a third winner in a fortnight for Paddy Jones, a local businessman, and in his trainer's opinion benefited from a sojourn at Ascot before the race. Wane said: "I brought him down on Wednesday with my Hunt Cup runner Tertium to avoid the nightmare of a drive from Yorkshire on a Friday, and he was able to work and canter on the course over the last few days."

Prince Dome may return to Ascot next year. Wane added: "He'll stick to his own age-group this year, but he's improving and he's the sort who could make up into a Wokingham prospect."

The day's feature race, the Ladbroke Handicap, produced drama with a finish of inches and a faller. Winter Romance and Michael Hills took the pounds 17,048 spoils for Sheikh Hamdan Al Maktoum by the width of a whisker from Conspicuous; behind them Darren Moffatt and his mount Wafir crashed down after becoming the filling in a sandwich made by the Paul Cole stablemates Romios and Star Manager, and were lucky to escape unscathed from a horrible-looking spill.

It was Winter Romance's first win since he got off the mark in May last year, and the ground was the key. His trainer Ed Dunlop said: "He's raced on the genuinely soft ground he likes only twice in his life, and he's won both times." The Magnet Cup at York next month is his next target.

Dick Hern, due to retire at the end of the season, notched a double at his last Ascot week, though he missed the kudos of the Royal tag by a day. Falak, another owned by Sheikh Hamdan, outbattled Monza to take the Milcars Stakes by a head and two races later Lord Chelsea's Right Wing swept home clear of Sugarfoot in the Triumvirate Limited Stakes.

In the Jackpot there was only pounds 1.66 running on after Right Wing's win, but Ffestiniog's all-the-way victory in the last leg ensured two off-course punters scooped part of the pool. One drew pounds 122,165 when 36 pence-worth of his pounds 60 investment succeeded; the other netted pounds 33,561 for one winning 10 pence line in his pounds 256 bet. The remaining pounds 255,258.93 will be carried forward to one of tomorrow's meetings, probably Nottingham.