Frankie Dettori has defended his ride on Stradivarius in last year’s Gold Cup as he opened up about his nightmare week at Royal Ascot 12 months ago on the eve of returning to the meeting for the final time.
Dettori was speaking to the Racing Post for a major interview in Sunday’s newspaper in which he reflected on his extraordinary farewell year, discussed the moment that briefly made him reconsider his decision to retire and explained why he thinks his fellow jockeys are pleased to see the back of him.
The 52-year-old also looked back to last year’s meeting, describing it as a “bad week right from the start”. John Gosden made public his unhappiness with Dettori’s ride after Stradivarius was third in the Gold Cup, after which he was narrowly beaten on Saga in the Britannia and turned over on the Queen’s 2-5 favourite Reach For The Moon in the Hampton Court. Gosden then repeated his criticism following Inspiral’s Coronation Stakes win the following day and the pair had soon parted ways for what proved a short-lived “sabbatical”.
“What I remember are the facts,” said Dettori. “The blindfold on Lord North got stuck in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes. That sort of thing just doesn’t happen. I then got blamed for Stradivarius not winning the Gold Cup, Saga was unlucky and Reach For The Moon got beat in the very next race. Luckily, Inspiral won the following day, but it was still true we didn’t have a good week. But what can you do?”
Defending his performance on Stradivarius, Dettori added: “I don’t believe it was a bad ride. I was trying to follow Ryan Moore on Kyprios but unfortunately he got the first run. If I had ridden the race differently, I would have ended up being stuck behind all the outsiders. I had to ride Stradivarius to beat the horse I knew I had to beat. It’s as simple as that.
“You’ve got to have a bit of luck – and, in fairness, I did get pretty lucky in the first two of his three Gold Cups because we got perfect splits. Last year we were trying to equal Yeats and I think we all felt the pressure. We took that pressure to the races. We were all angry because of results and because of pressure.”
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