Colour Vision ridden by Frankie Dettori wins Gold Cup at Royal Ascot

 

Colour Vision and Frankie Dettori survived a stewards' inquiry as they held off fellow Godolphin runner Opinion Poll to take top honours in the Gold Cup at Royal Ascot.

The Italian rider had to choose between the pair earlier this week and many saw it as a surprise when he sided with Saeed bin Suroor's Colour Vision over the more established Opinion Poll.

Dettori settled the 6-1 chance on the heels of the leaders for much of the two-and-a-half-mile journey and quickened up well in the straight to take the lead.

Opinion Poll came from further back with a big challenge under Mickael Barzalona, but former Mark Johnston inmate Colour Vision held on by half a length.

The front two did come close together, but although the stewards immediately called an inquiry, the placings remained unaltered.

The hot favourite for the Group One feature was last year's winner Fame And Glory.

But while Aidan O'Brien's odds-on shot travelled nicely into the straight, he could not pick up from further back and was ultimately well beaten.

Formerly with Mark Johnston, Colour Vision had made an impressive debut for Bin Suroor in the rearranged Sagaro Stakes on the all-weather at Kempton, and Dettori clearly felt he was open to more progress than Opinion Poll, who was second in the race 12 months ago.

A further neck away from the Godolphin duo in third was the John Oxx-trained Saddler's Rock.

Like the winner, he ran an excellent race for a four-year-old, especially considering how hard he pulled in the early stages.

Sheikh Mohammed, the mastermind of the Godolphin operation, was delighted to claim a one-two.

He said: "Whatever happened, they are two very good horses that finished first and second and that's a good thing.

"You have to wait a year to prepare your horse to come here and even the second horse ran a great race."

Of Dettori and Barzalona, he said: "They are two good jockeys. Frankie is great and Mikael is coming up this year."

Dettori, who has been the subject of much speculation in recent weeks with the big rides now shared around the Godolphin team, was delighted to get a big-race win on the board.

He said: "It was great. This was my best chance of the week.

"I had to make a very hard decision (to ride Colour Vision over Opinion Poll. They are both great horses and warriors and I finished up the best, but only by a short margin.

"I'm delighted for the team and myself as well. It's been a very hard week and I'm glad this one came up.

"It was great, we have a great team, and first and second is a great result."

Much has been made of Barzalona's rise to prominence with Godolphin.

However, Dettori insisted there was no extra joy in beating his fellow Godolphin rider in the finish.

"It's always enjoyable winning," he said.

"Me and Mickael are good friends but when you are out there, you are by yourself and you want to win for yourself. It doesn't matter who is in the finish, you always try to win."

Asked if he felt the victory re-established his seniority within the Godolphin riding ranks, Dettori said with a smile: "No. We'll have to prove it in the next one - you only remember the last one."

When asked if he had read any of the speculation about Dettori, Sheikh Mohammed said: "I don't care, I have my own ideas.

"I know how good Frankie is and we do need more than one jockey for Godolphin."

Now a five-time Gold Cup-winning trainer, Bin Suroor last won the race with Papineau in 2004 and was thrilled to claim the prize again, particularly with Dettori in the saddle.

Bin Suroor said: "After Frankie rode the horse last time, he knew it would be hard to choose between the two but when he picked our horse, he thought he'd picked the best one.

"He's improving all the time.

"I've won the Gold Cup before but it's very special to win it again.

"We know now that he can run in all the best staying races and it's great to see Frankie winning it again."

Al Zarooni said of Opinion Poll: "He ran very well, no excuses today. They are two nice horses, it doesn't matter as we are one team. As for future plans we will see what Simon (Crisford, racing manager) and Sheikh Mohammed want to do."

Oxx said of Saddler's Rock: "The race was a bit of farce for him, unfortunately, as they went too slow early on, which meant he pulled for the first mile or so and then it was a sprint for the last mile and he couldn't quicken on the soft ground.

"He got a bit unbalanced, Johnny (Murtagh) said, and he was struggling, but then he finally got going when it was too late.

"There are a lot of options for him, probably starting off with the Goodwood Cup, and we'll look at similar races.

"He needs good to firm ground and a good pace to be at his best, but unfortunately we haven't got a pacemaker."

Johnston, whose Gulf Of Naples cut out much of the early running before finishing fourth, said: "Gulf Of Naples ran a fantastic race.

"I said a year ago that horse (Colour Vision) would win the Gold Cup and he has done."

PA

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