Frankie Dettori said he had never given up hope being top jockey at Royal Ascot again as he picked up the sixth title on Saturday but his first since 2004.
Neither 48-year-old Dettori nor Ryan Moore had a winner on day five of the meeting as Dettori emerged successful by seven wins to five.
Dettori’s wins equalled his best previous royal meeting tally set in 1998 and included his incredible 449-1 four-timer on Thursday centred around the second successive Gold Cup win on board John Gosden-trained Stradivarius.
Frankie Dettori said he had never given up hope being top jockey at Royal Ascot again
Dettori said: ‘It feels good, what a week with three group one wins and a superb Thursday. I am stuck for words. I started the week with (the defeat of) Too Darn Hot in the St James’s Palace Stakes and I thought it could have been one of those weeks.
‘But it picked up and you know the rest. We made headlines for the right reasons. I have finished close in recent seasons but Ryan has so much fire power from Aidan O’Brien and Coolmore. This week he hit the crossbar with seven seconds.’
It was also a great week for jockey Danny Tudhope, who picked up his fourth win of the week on Richard Fahey-trained Space Traveller in the Jersey Stakes on Saturday.
But Dettori, who has 67 career royal meeting wins, once again showed that on the big stage with the spotlight on him, there is no-one better.
He might be racing’s Greatest Showman but he has also delivered a tactical masterclass and was being compared favourably to legendary Lester Piggott by Mark Johnston after he had won Wednesday’s Queen Mary Stakes on the trainer’s filly Raffle Prize.
Neither 48-year-old Dettori nor Ryan Moore had a winner on day five of the meeting
Perched on board a horse in inimitable style, Dettori made sure he was in the right place at the right time on all his winners.
The Italian lit up a rain-soaked Wednesday and lifted the spirits of the drenched crowd with victory on Crystal Ocean in the feature Prince of Wales’s Stakes.
But his Thursday exploits were the highlight of the meeting, sending a surge of excitement around the track.
The winning streak helped push ITV figures to a highest peak of 1.4million, the highest for seven years, with numbers being maintained as the sport’s most popular jockey went, albeit unsuccessfully, for win No 5 on Turgenev in the Britannia Stakes.
Unscheduled commentary of that race was also played out on BBC Radio 5Live, holding up the 5 o’clock news.
It was another example of the Dettori effect, as was in the fall-out from his Thursday four-timer, some big betting firms being so scared of running up more big Dettori-related liabilities that the refused to allow punters to place accumulator bets on his mounts.
Dettori’s wins at Royal Ascot this year equalled his best previous royal meeting tally set in 1998
Dettori is quite simply out on his own as Britain’s best known Flat jockey. Since his six-month ban in 2012 for testing positive for cocaine, he is supremely fit, focused and happy.
He rides more sparingly, shunning the work-a-day mundane early-week fixtures and taking fewer risks. He only took three rides in the week before Royal Ascot, wary that injury ruled him out of his favourite meeting in 2017, because it is the big days that get his juices flowing.
Having ridden since 1988, and despite previously saying he would like to ride against son Rocco if he can fulfil his jockey ambitions, the reality is that Dettori probably only has four or five seasons left.
And when he goes there will be a massive vacuum. Sport, like politics, loves a personality.
ITV anchor Ed Chamberlin is in no doubt Dettori played his part in ITV’s positive viewing figures last week. The snowball effect of Dettori’s success is even bigger in our social media age compared to 1996 when Dettori rode all seven winners at an Ascot meeting in September, an iconic day on racing history that ruined some bookmakers.
Chamberlin said: ‘You can just imagine people at work, messaging their friends and saying, ”Have you seen what Dettori’s doing?”. There was a massive Dettori factor.
ITV anchor Ed Chamberlin is in no doubt Dettori played his part in ITV’s viewing figures
‘That’s shown by the fact that more people watched Turgenev’s race than the Gold Cup. It was a crazy number of people watching the Britannia Handicap on a Thursday afternoon at 5pm.
‘Footballers like Messi and Ronaldo bring people into sport through ability not character. Frankie does it with a bit of both. AP McCoy summed it up brilliantly on Friday when he said on ITV that Frankie genuinely believes that 70,000 people come to Royal Ascot to watch him and he is putting on a show for them.’
Chamberlin’s ITV colleague Jason Weaver, a friend and one-time weighing room colleague of Dettori, said: ‘Frankie is able to see the chess move six or seven moves in front of everyone else at the moment. Everything looks like it is happening in slow motion for him.
‘By his own admission he is no good on a quiet Monday. Surprisingly, he was good in the rain this week because normally he is awful. He is not like Lewis Hamilton. But on the big days, he’s the best.’