Take Care Frankie …

June 23rd, 2022 | Marten's Current Racing Diary

If ever you wanted to see an example of the importance of confidence in a sportsman, then all you need to do is look back at the week Frankie Dettori had at Royal Ascot.

It has been well known for years that Frankie is susceptible to mood swings but there is no one who rides Ascot better when things are falling his way. However, as any jockey will tell you, when things aren’t going well nothing seems to go right and the gaps don’t appear.

Well for me the early warning signs that Thursday could prove tricky for Frankie appeared on the first two days of the meeting, when the nearest he got to a winner from nine rides was to finish third on Harrovian.

I saw things take a turn for the worse on Stowell in the Copper Horse Stakes when the horse came with what looked a well-timed winning run only to drop away quickly inside the final furlong, finishing sixth.

I sensed Frankie’s frustration by the ride he gave the horse close home and then, on Wednesday, he lost all chance on Lord North in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes when he couldn’t get the blindfold off at the start.

Frankie knew that the Thursday of the Royal meeting was always going to be the big day for him, with Stradivarius trying for a fourth Gold Cup and the Queen, in her Platinum Jubilee year, hoping to see Reach For The Moon give her a winner, but once again things didn’t start too well when Franz Strauss came home in mid-division in the King George V Stakes.

As for the Gold Cup, I don’t think Frankie was entirely to blame for the defeat of Stradivarius.

The horse is now an eight-year-old entire, and he may have become a little quirky. Yes he lost his place early in the race but, after being switched wide for a run, he possibly still would have won with younger legs.

I would be more inclined to attribute the defeat of Saga, owned by The Queen, in the next to jockey error.

Poorly positioned at halfway in almost last, he weaved his way through the field under what looked fairly indifferent handling and failed by just a head to catch the winner.

It was somehow inevitable that Reach For The Moon, priced at 5/2 on, would then find one too good for him. He was, though, beaten on merit.

Frankie did gain some compensation on Friday, with Inspiral’s runaway victory in the Coronation Stakes, but a two-day whip ban for his ride on Stradivarius and John Gosden’s uncompromising and very public appraisal of his riding on Thursday would have done little to lift his mood.

Ascot is Frankie’s patch and he probably views the Royal meeting, with some justification, as the opportunity to showcase his talents. He is the man for the big occasion, but even the greatest can’t control everything and this was a week that he will be glad to forget.

But, like the best in any sport, he will be back. Just try to steer clear of the dark side Frankie. You’ve been there before and it’s not a good place.

Bye for now