Royal Ascot: Frankie Dettori gets 50th win; Free Eagle triumphs

Frankie Dettori
Dettori is enjoying a renaissance this season

Jockey Frankie Dettori claimed his 50th career Royal Ascot win with victory on Osaila in the Sandringham Handicap.

The Italian-born 44-year-old won on the Richard Hannon-trained 13-2 shot in a photo finish from Always Smile.

"Fifty is a big number," he said. "To join the greats like Lester Piggott and Pat Eddery means a lot."

Earlier, Free Eagle, the 5-2 favourite, edged out The Grey Gatsby by a short head to win the Prince of Wales's Stakes.

Ridden by Pat Smullen, the Dermot Weld-trained horse held off the fast-finishing second, with Western Hymn third.

Dettori's winning run
6 June: Wins the Derby at Epsom on Golden Horn
14 June: Completes Classic double with Star Of Seville in French Oaks
17 June: Racks up 50th career Royal Ascot victory aboard Osaila

Dettori's renaissance

He joins a select group of three jockeys by passing the 50 winners mark at the Royal meeting.

Piggott leads the way on all-time triumphs, with 116, followed by Eddery (73) and Willie Carson (56).

Dettori made his trademark flying dismount after his latest success and said took particular delight in winning for his "boss", Sheikh Joaan.

Dettori has bounced back after splitting from his long-term employers Godolphin in 2012.

He was also banned for six months after testing positive for cocaine.

Free Eagle leads The Grey Gatsby
Free Eagle just held off The Grey Gatsby in a thrilling finish

The Eagle has landed

Weld said Free Eagle, returning after 242 days off, will now have the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Longchamp in October as a target.

The Grey Gatsby, under Jamie Spencer, struggled for room before closing the gap to the leader.

Free Eagle had been off the track since finishing third in the Champion Stakes behind winner Noble Mission at Ascot in October.

The four-year-old showed no signs of rustiness here, as he quickened smartly to take the lead when French pacesetter Gailo Chop faded.

Last year's French Derby and Irish Champion Stakes winner The Grey Gatsby travelled well throughout but was short of racing room, and could not catch Free Eagle when he was finally able to push ahead.

Racing correspondent Cornelius Lysaght
"Considering that because of injury or illness this was only Free Eagle's fifth race, and first of the year, this was fabulous.
"Dermot Weld is confident the horse was slightly, as he put it, 'under-cooked' so his fitness should improve for cracks at the Irish Champion Stakes - won last year by today's runner-up The Grey Gatsby - and the Arc de Triomphe, and he looks a formidable opponent for both.
"And 'formidable' is a good word for Weld too whether it be Royal Ascot, the Cheltenham Festival or the Melbourne Cup he can find the winners' circle.

Thursday's highlights

A crowd of 70,000 is expected at the Berkshire track for Ladies' Day, the highlight of the five-day Royal Ascot meeting which features the Gold Cup.

Weld and Smullen will be on the look-out for a big double with Forgotten Rules, with the trainer happy to run despite earlier fears the ground might be too firm for the horse.

Aidan O'Brien, who has saddled a record six previous winners of the Gold Cup including four-time victor Yeats, runs Kingfisher.

Ryan Moore - winner of five of the 12 races on the opening two days - takes the ride, with rivals including Mizzou, Simenon and Trip To Paris.

Win for the Queen on Ladies' Day?

Two years ago, the Queen famously enjoyed a big-race victory when her horse Estimate won the Gold Cup.

Racing's most famous owner has three runners on Thursday - Peacock (5-1, 15:05 BST), Capel Path (10-1, 17:00) and Dartmouth (14-1, 17:35).

The Queen is seeking her 23rd victory at the meeting, where the going is officially described as Good to Firm, after the course was watered (5mm) last night to maintain safe ground.

Race schedule

1430 BST: Norfolk Stakes

1505: Tercentenary Stakes

1545: Ribblesdale Stakes

1620: Gold Cup

1700: Britannia Stakes

1735: King George V Stakes