Across The Stars (yellow, blue) handed Frankie Dettori a fourth win
PICTURE: Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)
By Lee Mottershead 3:10PM 17 JUN 2016
Report: Royal Ascot, Friday
King Edward VII Stakes (Group 2) 1m4f, 3yo, colts and geldings
FRANKIE DETTORI could have been forgiven if his mind was on other things but the superstar rider was clearly thinking about racing not football when helping Across The Stars to a gutsy defeat of Beacon Light in a furious finish to the £200,000 prize.
Dettori’s beloved Italian football team was playing Sweden in its second group game of the European Championships at exactly the same time the world’s most famous jockey was showing us once again that nobody rides Ascot better.
To make the victory extra sweet Dettori denied his great rival Ryan Moore, who had set out to make all the running aboard the Aidan O’Brien-trained Beacon Light but lost out by a length and a quarter.
‘I’ve always liked him’
Going into the race O’Brien had moved his Royal Ascot career haul to 52 wins but that still leaves him with considerable ground to make up on training legend Sir Michael Stoute, who was saddling his 74th royal meeting winner, just one less than the total achieved by the late Sir Henry Cecil.
“I’ve always liked him,” said Stoute, who was running the Saeed Suhail-owned Across The Stars only 13 days after the son of Sea The Stars was beaten nearly 20 lengths into tenth in the Investec Derby.
In 2006 Stoute’s Papal Bull won the King Edward VII – commonly known as the Ascot Derby – after also finishing tenth at Epsom.
“I was the only one in the weighing room watching the football,” joked Dettori, who was riding his fourth winner at Royal Ascot 2016.
“To win the Ascot Derby is great,” he added. “Sir Michael has been hitting the crossbar so I’m pleased to get him a winner. He’s a master trainer and he got this horse so well prepared for the day.
“He didn’t come down the hill at Epsom but he handled the track well today and we won!”
St Leger unlikely
Dettori – who has now ridden 56 Royal Ascot winners, the same number as Willie Carson – drove 600,000gns purchase Across The Stars into a challenging position a furlong and a half from home. The Lingfield trial third then displayed a fine attitude but not, according to Stoute, enough evidence he would thrive over further to trigger a Ladbrokes St Leger bid.
“I don’t think he would stay the Leger trip and I don’t think he is a Leger horse,” said Stoute. “We’ll give him a bit of a break now and work out a programme for him in a few weeks time.”
Looking to the past and future, Stoute added: “Saeed was very keen to have a runner in the Derby but I never felt Epsom would suit him. Kieren (Fallon) looked after him there as he never came down the hill.
“He is still a big baby, mentally and physically. He can be a little impetuous but he’s growing up. I think he has a future.
“He’s a good actioned horse, a good athlete and he’ll only get stronger. We paid a lot of money for him and he’s justified it now.”
Carntop, who carried the colours of the Prince of Wales and Duchess Of Cornwall, looked dangerous entering the closing stages but weakened into fifth.
His trainer Ralph Beckett said: “He is still an immature horse and his immaturity showed today.”