Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 November 2019

Frankie Dettori lands his 250th Group One winner at Ascot's Champions Day

Victory on Star Catcher eases shock of Stradivarius suffering first defeat for two years

Frankie Dettori celebrates after he rides Star Catcher to win the Fillies & Mares Stakes during the British Champions Day at Ascot. Getty
Frankie Dettori celebrates after he rides Star Catcher to win the Fillies & Mares Stakes during the British Champions Day at Ascot. Getty

Frankie Dettori enjoyed mixed fortunes on Champions Day at Ascot on Saturday, as the joy of his 250th Group One victory was undermined by Stradivarius's 10-race winning streak coming to a shock end.

The 48-year-old Italian also suffered the indignity of being dumped from King of Comedy in front of the crowd of just under 30,000, including the racing's most famous patron Queen Elizabeth II.

Star Catcher, though, will remain firmly etched in his memory as the filly prevailed in a thrilling finish to the Fillies and Mares race, just getting the better of Delphinia and Sun Maiden.

Her victory also managed to put the smile back on Dettori's face following Stradivarius's defeat in the previous race, the Long Distance Cup.

"I am still a bit sour about Stradivarius," he said. "From crying to smiling in half an hour! She provided me with my 250th Group One. I love her.

"It would have been great to have done it on Enable (in the Arc de Triomphe a fortnight ago) but what a number... it must be a European record."

Stradivarius gave his all in an epic duel with Kew Gardens as both swapped the lead as they hit the final-furlong marker. Just a nose separated them on the line but it was sufficient to bring to an end the winning streak for John Gosden's stayer, dating back to when he was third in the same race in 2017.

Gosden took defeat philosophically, saying they had been close to pulling Stradivarius out due to the heavy conditions. "It is Champions Day and you let the day down if you do not run Stradivarius," he said. "He found it too much of a slog on the ground but he's run a wonderful race. He came back and had a whinny, so he's happy."

Gosden was much happier when he welcomed back Star Catcher half an hour after Stradivarius's heart-breaking defeat. He said he had remained relaxed while preparing her despite the shock of the previous race.

"You have to remain calm and collected for the horses," said the 68-year-old Englishman. "You are no damn good if you are jumping around and being neurotic, and when you start saddling them they feel your nerves. You need to be calm."

Andrew Balding could have been forgiven for showing some emotion as Donjuan Triumphant won the first race, the Sprint.

In what is his last race, he gave Thai owners King Power Racing their first Group One winner - he was the first horse the late Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha bought.

"It's fantastic for King Power, a first Group One winner and this was the first horse the Chairman (Vichai) ever bought so it's all got symmetry, it's lovely," said Balding.

O'Brien was to round off the day with his filly Magical taking the Champion Stakes - the first in the race for the trainer - and declared her the "ultimate racehorse".

Updated: October 19, 2019 09:35 PM

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