They rolled up in their tens of thousands, ready to join in another Ryan Moore bonanza, but not for the first time it was Frankie Dettori who stole the Ascot show, as American sprinter Undrafted edged out Australian champion Brazen Beau in a thrilling Diamond Jubilee Stakes.
With Moore suffering a rare blank afternoon, and goodness knows, he’s entitled to one after riding nine winners over the first four days to break the modern-day Royal Ascot record held jointly by Lester Piggott and Pat Eddery, the stage was clear for Dettori, who hasn’t had a bad week himself, to shine in the last-day highlight. He grabbed his chance with both hands, delivering the Wesley Ward-trained gelding with expert timing to break Australian hearts.
What a shame for Brazen Beau’s camp. He comes all the way over from the other side of the world to beat the best in Europe and he gets trumped by an American.
Undrafted, owned by NFL player Wes Welker, a former wide receiver for the Denver Broncos, was a first Group One success in Europe for Ward, the ultimate reward for his enterprise, but the whole occasion was put into perspective for him after spending a fraught Friday night in hospital when his daughter, Denae, developed a touch of Bell’s palsy.
“It didn’t look like we were going to make it here,” said Ward, visibly drained. “But we had a wonderful doctor and we were able to enjoy this special occasion. It’s unbelievable and really special for this little girl; she really wanted to be here.
“I am just elated. And Frankie was superb. You can have a Porsche against Porsches, but you still gotta have the right guy at the wheel.”
Chris Waller, who trains Brazen Beau, wondered whether the result may have been different if the three-year-old hadn’t raced solo under Craig Williams from his wide draw, but he wasn’t complaining: “He has done us proud.” There were no sour grapes either from Kevin Ryan, whose Astaire fared best of the European contingent. “It’s great to have this international element,” he said. “This is racing’s Olympics and the whole world should be involved.”
Dettori has always been a big fan of Undrafted, who might well clash again with Brazen Beau in the July Cup at Newmarket next month, but this has been Moore’s week and the Italian saved his biggest compliment for his weighing room colleague:
“He’s a great jockey and he’s had an unbelievable week. I thought three or four wins might take the Ascot title, but nine? And you will only know what a great achievement this is in years to come when others try to get near it and they won’t.”
It was a different day, very different weather, but it was the same Moore, striding into Ascot racecourse, content though not dwelling on a job well done, but with more winners on his mind. There was a chance (5-1 with bookmakers) that he might even match, or beat, Fred Archer’s all-time record of 12 set in 1878.
But everything needed to go right and it didn’t. Six rides, three of them supposed bankers, but no winners and barely a sniff of one either after Aidan O’Brien’s Ballydoyle, whose very name reveals the high regard in which she is held, lost the Chesham Stakes in a photo finish to French raider Suits You. Telescope was flop number two in his bid to win back-to-back Hardwicke Stakes, trailing home last but one behind stablemate Snow Sky, given an inspired front-running ride by Pat Smullen.
Snow Sky was being aimed at the two-mile Melbourne Cup in November, but this performance over 12 furlongs was a revelation and is forcing a rethink. “I’d say he could take on anything over a mile and a half,” enthused Smullen.
He may well now return to Ascot for the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes next month and if he does, one of his opponents might be Mahsoob, who is ready for much better things after maintaining his unbeaten record in the Wolferton Handicap.
There was to be no last word for Moore as Wicklow Brave, the hottest favourite of the lot, was among those proving no match for Oriental Fox. The heavily backed Interception gave trainer David Lanigan his first Royal Ascot triumph when swooping late under George Baker to land the Wokingham Handicap.Reuse content