It's Frankie and Frankel's World at Royal Ascot

Racing
Jockey Frankie Dettori kicked off the 2018 Royal Ascot meeting by winning three races on opening day, June 19. (Eclipse Sportswire)

By Geoffrey Riddle, courtesy of Racing UK.

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Frankel and Frankie Dettori, who else?

A superstar combination, if there ever was one, and Royal Ascot was their stage here on Tuesday when Without Parole followed in his sire Frankel’s footsteps in the St James’s Palace Stakes as the middle leg of a 86-1 treble for the Italian jockey.

Dettori notched his 57th winner on the opening day of this five-day jamboree when Calyx justified the hype by racing on his own without a fluster to win the Coventry Stakes. And Monarchs Glen, another son of Frankel, added the gilt when the fellow Juddmonte Farms-owned gelding kept on to take the Wolferton Stakes.

Dettori is now a best-priced 8-15 with Betfair (only 1-5 with William Hill) to add a sixth Royal Ascot top jockey title to his collection, and a first since 2004 when his Godolphin contract helped him to six winners.

Cracksman, another son of Frankel, waits in the wings for the June 20 feature and is an 8-13 chance to make it four in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes. Much water has flowed under the bridge since he missed last year’s meeting with a broken shoulder.

“I’m making up for last year. It’s been an amazing day,” he said. "I love Ascot, it’s been so lucky for me. I didn’t expect three winners today, that’s a bonus.”

Dettori was out on his own in the closing stages both on Calyx and Without Parole, but where the former had enough in the engine room to keep powering on to earn comparisons as one of the best juvenile colts the jockey has ridden, Without Parole got lonely out in front.

His rider took matters in to his own hands, and should John Gosden decide to try Without Parole over ten furlongs in the Coral Eclipse Stakes, a distance he is bred for, he will have to do it without his partner.

Dettori received a suspension of seven days and was fined £4,300 for using his whip above the permitted level. All in all, a Sussex Stakes clash with surprise Queen Anne Stakes winner Accidental Agent looks more likely.

Dettori will lose little sleep over it. The 47-year-old met the Duke and Duchess of Sussex – Harry and Meghan to you and me – after the St James’s Palace, and shared jokes with “Goodness Gracious Me’s” Sanjeev Bhaskar and “The Kumars At 42’s” Meera Syal after the last.

He was also a hive of activity and electricity around John and Tanya Gunther, the Canadian owners of Without Parole who have thundered through a six weeks few will ever experience.

The father and daughter combination produce about 20-30 foals a year across their breeding operations in Kentucky, Ireland, France and England – Justify, the US Triple Crown winner, was bred on their land. So, too, was Without Parole, and although the emotions ran high at Belmont Park this month, both the Gunthers were adamant Royal Ascot was more special.

“It is a dream come true,” John Gunther said. “In all the 20 years I have been coming to Royal Ascot, my dream was just to have a horse run here. Then we start in a Group 1 and do it. I don’t know what to say.

“This does mean more than breeding a Triple Crown winner. It does. And it always will. This was the most important and means everything to me. Juddmonte allowing me to breed to my mare to Frankel meant everything believe me, because I love Frankel so much.”

As Without Parole and Dettori swept into the winner’s enclosure, Tanya Gunther was shaking. She had shouted the horse home – "Go boy, go boy!" This was the Gunther’s first Royal Ascot runner, and we all know you never forget your first. Especially when it is as good as this.

“You always think it would have been nice to keep Justify, but the path he has taken is fate,” she said. “We don’t race too much in California, as we are normally in the East Coast, so we probably would not have sent him to Bob Baffert, who has pretty much got this (Triple Crown) done. I can’t have a regret on that. You just have to be really proud of him.

“But this horse, there has been so much about this horse since his first start. His odds have been lower than they should be because of Gosden, Frankel, and Frankie Dettori. It is a dream world, you just can’t have it sink in.”

It is a dream world. A Frankel and Dettori dream world. We are all just living in it.

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