Frankie Dettori has ridden some of the world’s best racehorses but few tougher stayers than Stradivarius, the shortest-price favourite of Royal Ascot week.
With main rival Kew Gardens falling by the wayside, a third Gold Cup looks all but a formality for the star perfomer.
Dettori cost the bookies dear on the big day in 2019, as another success for Stradivarius capped a remarkable four-timer in the main race of the meeting.
Form students had to go right back to 1965 to find the last jockey to achieve such a feat on a Royal Ascot afternoon, fellow Flat racing titan and the Gold Cup’s most successful rider, Lester Piggott.
Although this year’s meeting will be like no other, without the buzz of the crowd Dettori thrives on, he hopes Stradivarius can put on a show after a promising warm-up run.
“Stradivarius ran well in the Coronation Cup at Newmarket,” Dettori said.
“We used that as a stepping stone for the Gold Cup, obviously, that’s always been the priority.
“He has come out of the race very well and is the defending champion.
“We know he stays, he’s got a good turn of foot, so fingers crossed.
“He’s the crowd’s favourite so I just hope he delivers.”
Viewers will be watching on from home as the enclosures, normally packed to the rafters with racegoers in their finery, remain empty over the five days.
But they will still be hoping that the bankers deliver, with Battaash and Japan touching odds on with Stradivarius in the build-up.
For Dettori, Ascot is a place like no other, a world class venue where his ‘Magnificent Seven’ winners 24 years ago brought the bookies to their knees.
Stradivarius is the fifth different horse to give him a Gold Cup win, a race The Queen won in 2013 with Estimate- and he arrives in Berkshire with all the characteristics to win it again.
“Stradivarius is not overly big for a stayer, he’s a fighter, he likes the scrap, he likes to be involved amongst them and he’s got a good turn of foot,” Sporting Index ambassador Dettori added.
“He’s got an amazing change of gear for the last furlong which is very unique for a stayer and he’s very tough mentally.
“Nothing phases him, and that’s what you need.
“You need a horse that has the will to win and he’s definitely got one.”