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Frankie Dettori has fun hitting the big fifty

By Frank Brownlow

Published 18/06/2015

Half century of success: Frankie Dettori celebrates his 50th Royal Ascot winner
Half century of success: Frankie Dettori celebrates his 50th Royal Ascot winner

Frankie Dettori - who rides Forever Now in the Gold Cup - hailed "the man who saved my career" after claiming his 50th winner at Royal Ascot, Osaila getting up to take the Sandringham Handicap in a photo finish.

Dettori joins legends of the turf Lester Piggott (116), Pat Eddery (73) and Willie Carson (56), the only other jockeys to pass a half century of winners at the royal meeting.

The 44-year-old, who was wearing the silks of Al Shaqab Racing for whom he is number one rider, said: "I thought it was never going to come so it's great, especially for my boss as he's here. Fifty is a big number.

"This was one of my best rides this week and it came off. It's special - Sheikh Joaan saved my career and I owe him a lot.

"Ascot's my place and I love it," he said.

"On the line I wasn't sure - she must have a big nose!" said Dettori, Osaila winning in a photo finish from favourite Always Smile, owned by Dettori's former employers Godolphin.

The Queen's Touchline just beat Jellicle Ball to third spot.

Dettori, who has been leading jockey at Royal Ascot five times, added: "It's a great satisfaction. I was getting a bit worried towards the end of the day as I thought I had some good rides.

"I got a great reception from the crowd and have some fantastic memories that I'll have for the rest of my life."

The Italian is on a stunning run at the moment, the highlight being victory in the Epsom Derby on board Golden Horn. And all this after returning from a drugs ban.

He added: "Things are going fantastically well. I have had some bad times so I am going to enjoy the good times."

Dermot Weld - who has today's Gold Cup favourite, Forgotten Rules - has had winners in big races all over the world but few have given him greater pleasure than watching Free Eagle win the Prince of Wales's Stakes.

The talented but fragile colt has had so many issues, seeing his racing career restricted to just four races in two years.

Weld always kept the faith and let the horse do his talking on the track. And with his star now firing on all cylinders, the Curragh handler is plotting a future that could take in the Irish Champion Stakes and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.

It was, however, a close-run thing as The Grey Gatsby finished to such effect that he was just a short head behind Pat Smullen's mount at the line in a pulsating renewal.

"This horse has bags of courage and is a hard horse to beat," said Weld.

"He had a stress fracture of the tibia last year and had to miss all the Classics. We got him back for the Champion Stakes here.

"The plan was to start him in the Tattersalls Gold Cup, but he got a bad head cold which delayed his comeback and his work.

"Fitness was my biggest concern and I had him as good as I could have with the limited preparation he'd had.

"You can't force fitness and ideally the race came two weeks too soon, but I had huge confidence in this horse's ability. It was a calculated risk and a personal triumph for me.

"I've always thought the Arc would be his long-term objective.

"Pat gave him his usual brilliant ride."

Smullen, on board Weld's Forgotten Rules in the Gold Cup, said: "I don't think I've gotten as much pleasure from riding a winner."

Belfast Telegraph

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