Lockinge Stakes: Olympic Glory for Frankie Dettori
Italian's rehabilitation continues with 200th Group One victory and second for trainer Richard Hannon Jnr
Sunday 18 May 2014
After high-profile vicissitudes of both the short- and long-term variety, the rehabilitation of Frankie Dettori continued at Newbury. The mercurial Italian, who suffered being sacked and serving a drugs ban within the past 18 months, was thrown a career lifeline last year with his appointment as first jockey to major new investor Sheikh Joaan Al-Thani, and yesterday he captured his first domestic Group One prize for the Qatari owner as Olympic Glory took the Lockinge Stakes.
It was a straightforward enough display from horse and rider; the colt, one of last year's top three-year-old milers, started a well-backed 11-8 favourite despite drying ground supposedly not in his favour and, after being unleashed a furlong out, quickened clear of the progressive Tullius, a Group Two winner last time out, to score by two-and-a-quarter lengths.
"I was thinking that there was no pace and it was going to turn complicated," said Dettori, "but in the end it was as easy as riding work – follow the leaders, pull out, quicken to the front, pull away. He's uncomplicated, he has gears and a great attitude, in fact he's a jockey's dream. I was on by far the best horse today and he put the race to bed straight away."
The only disappointment was for racegoers. Dettori declined to celebrate his 200th Group One success (and his first at the top level in Britain since Colour Vision in the 2012 Ascot Gold Cup for his former employer, Sheikh Mohammed) with a flying dismount, in deference to the ankle he broke last autumn, an injury that ruled him out of top-level victories for Sheikh Joaan in the Arc on Treve and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes on yesterday's hero.
The Lockinge was a second Group One strike for a man making a notable start to his career. Olympic Glory's trainer, Richard Hannon, took over this season from his four-times champion father and namesake and promptly won the 2,000 Guineas with Night Of Thunder. "I'm not sure I've enjoyed a day's racing less," he admitted after welcoming his latest star, "as I really was feeling the pressure.
"But these good horses get us going and we should enjoy them while they're here, as they don't come along that often. This one is honest and versatile; they say he needs it soft but he'll go on any ground, though he does cope with it soft better than some others."
This was the Wiltshire stable's third Lockinge victor, after Paco Boy and Canford Cliffs, and in this season's older-horse mile division they also house Toronado and Sky Lantern. Olympic Glory is now bound for Royal Ascot, where he may again meet Aidan O'Brien's exciting US recruit Verrazano, a very promising third yesterday on his first run on turf. "Bring Ascot on," said the four-year-old's rider, Joseph O'Brien.
The Lockinge Stakes was undoubtedly a significant moment for Dettori. But 10 minutes later a Class Four handicap at Thirsk came close to grabbing the headlines. Away from elite levels most racing is run of the mill, of real interest only to those immediately connected with runners. Or to those who have had a bet, and yesterday what a bet it was.
The Scoop6, a Saturday accumulator, is the punters' answer to the Lottery and yesterday, after rolling over unwon for 11 weeks, it was worth £10.7 million, including bonuses, to anyone who could find the winners of the six designated races.
Before the first there were £6,874,346 worth of tickets in the pool, but by the time of the Marion Gibson Brown Memorial Handicap there were, after winners at 20-1, 8-1, 16-1, 6-1 and 14-1, just three remaining.
One came agonisingly close; Escape To Glory, the choice of an £8 staker, challenged and led briefly inside the final furlong. But the role of the man who shot Bambi's mother was played by Paul Pickard, who drove the 16-1 shot Llanarmon Lad to victory. Next week the pot could top £15 million.
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