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Frankie Dettori. Picture: REUTERS/CHRISTOPHER PIKE
Frankie Dettori. Picture: REUTERS/CHRISTOPHER PIKE

Next stop on the farewell tour of top jockey Frankie Dettori is next week’s meeting at Royal Ascot, where the Italian-born rider could delight his fans with a handful of winners.

Dettori, who will retire in November, rode his first winner in 1987 at the age of 16. Three years later he became the first teenager since Lester Piggott to ride 100 winners in a season.

In 2019 after a grade 1 win on Enable, Timeform commented: “There has been no other active participant in flat racing in Britain in the last quarter of a century with anything like the level of public recognition and appeal. Racing owes him a huge debt of gratitude.”

Dettori could kick off the royal meeting with a winner in the first race next Tuesday. He partners Inspiral for the Gosden stable in the grade 1 Queen Anne Stakes which carries a first prize of  £425,325.

In ante-post betting, bookmakers have the race as a two-cornered contest between Inspiral, winner of the Coronation Stakes, and Charlie Appleby’s runner Modern Games. The latter is favourite at 13-8 with Inspiral quoted at 5-2.

Appleby will be hoping the ground remains firm next week. He said: “I don’t want to run him on soft ground although he ran with merit on softer ground at Ascot on Champions Day.”

One of Dettori’s best mounts should be Andrew Balding’s three-year-old Chaldean, whom he partnered to victory in the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket. The colt is 7-4 favourite for the St James Palace Stakes, just ahead of the Aidan O’Brien entry Paddington (2-1).

The outcome of this race will determine which is the best miler of his generation this season, with Paddington the one that appeals most. 

While Dettori’s likely King Stand Stakes mount Manaccan — trained by John Ryan — has been popular in the ante-post market, Highfield Princess, second at York last month, appeals as the best bet at the meeting. The price of John Quinn’s filly has shortened from 4-1 to 11-4.

The Italian was due to partner 2022 Epsom Derby winner Desert Crown in the Prince Of Wales Stakes but Sir Michael Stoute’s four-year-old has been ruled out after finishing lame following a workout.

This has resulted in a shake-up in the betting with 2021 Derby hero Adayar now sharing favouritism with O’Brien’s Tattersalls Gold Cup winner Luxembourg. Bay Bridge is another talented performer and he is third choice in the market at 4-1.

“All is good with Luxembourg and everything has gone well so far,” O’Brien said.

Appleby was also upbeat about Adayar’s chances: “I’ve always wanted him to win a grade 1 over a mile and a quarter as I think it would look good on his CV. If he gets a strong pace to run at it will suit him down to the ground and we know he loves Ascot.”

Dettori has won the Ascot Gold Cup — run on Thursday next week — eight times including three victories on Stradivarius. He may partner Courage Mon Ami for the Gosden team, but the two fancied contenders here are Coltrane and Elder Eldarov.

While he is yet to race beyond two miles, Elder Eldarov is a smart performer and he enjoyed success at the 2022 Royal Ascot meeting when winning the Queen’s Vase.

A horse who looks worth an each-way nibble in the Gold Cup is Charlie Johnston’s stayer Subjectivist who won the race in 2021 but missed last year’s event due to injury. He is currently a 10-1 chance to notch a second success in the race.

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