Dettori limbers up in style for Stradivarius – and O’Brien equals Sir Henry Cecil landmark
Frankie Dettori and Aidan O’Brien – two of the racing world’s very leading lights – both reached 75 winners at Royal Ascot on the second day of this year’s meeting.
Dettori’s success was something of a surprise on 22-1 shot Indie Angel in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes, while Love provided a much more expected triumph for O’Brien in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes as the 11-10 favourite.
Indie Angel, trained by John and Thady Gosden, was just what the doctor ordered for Dettori on the eve of going for a fourth consecutive win in the Gold Cup aboard Stradivarius.
He is, though, taking nothing granted and knows what the two of them have to do.
“I’m not lying – I’m nervous. I’m not over-excited, I’ve got a job to do,” said Dettori, who still has some way to go to reach Lester Piggott’s haul of 116 wins at the Royal meeting.
“There’s a lot more runners than I thought – some he has not met before – and then there is the question mark of the rain so there’s a lot of things to be worried about. He still has to turn up.”
The 50-year-old Italian could not happier with the way Stradivarius is before his date with destiny.
“I’m very pleased with the horse. His home work has been good. His demeanour is good,” he said.
“He’s trying to do something that is rare. Only Yeats has done it, so I’ve still got to go out there. Me and him have to perform at our very best and I’ve got to get him over the line.
Nervous is good. It means you care and you've still got your eye on the ball
“It’s a big milestone. I was nervous when I rode Enable in her third Arc. I was nervous yesterday with Palace Pier.
“Nervous is good. It means you care and you’ve still got your eye on the ball. I know how to channel my emotions and to channel it in the right way.”
Yeats, who achieved the feat in the four years from 2006 to 2009, is the most successful horse in the Gold Cup history.
He was trained at Ballydoyle by O’Brien, who has now equalled the late Sir Henry Cecil’s tally of Royal Ascot winners thanks to Love making a successful seasonal reappearance.
O’Brien recalled the day Cecil won the Oaks at Epsom at his expense when Light Shift took the fillies’ Classic in 2007, with his Peeping Fawn beaten half a length in second place.
“I remember Sir Henry won the Oaks and we were there. He was an unbelievable man and the presence he had when he walked into the parade ring,” said O’Brien.
“When I started training it was a privilege to meet him.”
As ever, O’Brien showed his humility by playing down his role in the Ballydoyle operation.
“I’m in a very privileged position. I’m a small part of a big team and grateful to everybody for everything, he said.
It will probably not be too long before O’Brien has that particular training record to himself.