John Gosden poses at Kempton Park Racecourse on September 5, 2020 in Sunbury, England. File photo: GETTY IMAGESALAN CROWHURST
John Gosden poses at Kempton Park Racecourse on September 5, 2020 in Sunbury, England. File photo: GETTY IMAGESALAN CROWHURST

An advertising trailer for Royal Ascot might go something like this: “Coming soon: Frankie Dettori and John Gosden in another blockbuster.”

The famous Ascot meeting gets under way on Tuesday and the jockey and trainer duo is likely to play the leading roles again.

Dettori, who turned 50 in December, has been at the top of his game in 2021, winning the 1000 Guineas on Mother Earth, the Oaks on Snowfall and the Lockinge Stakes on Palace Pier. The Italian-born rider has been Ascot champion on seven occasions, including the past two years.

Gosden inmate Palace Pier — 4-7 favourite for Tuesday’s Queen Anne Stakes — is regarded as the meeting’s banker bet with the four-year-old having won seven of his eight starts. This is the race in which the mighty Frankel routed his rivals in 2012 winning by a staggering 11 lengths.

Gosden is in no doubt  how important Dettori has been to his operation since the pair teamed up in 2015. “Frankie is an extraordinary athlete and you save him for the big occasions. He rides work on the horses so he knows them. When he came to me he’d reached a crossroads in his life when he got in a bit of a muddle,” Gosden said.

The Newmarket trainer is delighted that a crowd of 12,000 will be allowed into the Berkshire track, provided they submit negative PCR tests for coronavirus.

“I don’t know how we survived last year’s meeting — it was a strange experience being in the grandstand with nobody there. Yet, it was an amazing achievement last year that Ascot remained firm about their dates and staged it in its original slot. I admit to being surprised at the worldwide audience it garnered,” Gosden said.

“One mustn’t forget that we are in the entertainment business — the sooner we get back to normal life with 60,000 or 70,000 people there, the better.”

If Timeform has its sums right, there is little chance of Palace Pier not getting favourite backers off to a bright start to the five-day meeting. It gives the horse a rating of 132, which is 11 points higher than second favourite Order Of Australia (121).

The other big race on Tuesday is the King Stand Stakes in which Battaash will bid to add another big one to his list of feature wins. This is the fourth year running he has contested this grade 1 event and has never run out of the first two.

However, the word from Yorkshire is that Tim Easterby’s three-year-old filly Winter Power is decidedly fast and will make Barry Hills’ speedster pull out all the stops.

On Thursday Dettori and Gosden will be hoping star stayer Stradivarius will equal Yeats’ record by winning the Gold Cup for the fourth time. He has won seven of his 17 races and Timeform rates him as the best horse over staying trips for almost 40 years.

Once again, it is a Yorkshire-trained horse, Subjectivist, that stands in the way of more glory for Dettori and Gosden. Mark Johnston’s stayer ran out a facile winner of the Dubai Gold Cup in March.

There was a scare for Johnston at the weekend when Subjectivist fell over on the way to the gallops. The word from the Middleham trainer was that the horse had only suffered a few scratches and would take his chance in the Gold Cup.


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