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Frankie Dettori shines on Undrafted in Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot

June 21 2015 – Greg Wood

Frankie Dettori shines on Undrafted in Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot
Frankie Dettori shines on Undrafted in Diamond Jubilee at Royal Ascot

The irrepressible Frankie Dettori celebrates in the parade ring after winning on Undrafted at Royal Ascot. Photograph: Will Oliver/EPA


He had been operating in the shadow of Ryan Moore all week, and paid tribute to Moore’s achievements afterwards, but at this track, Frankie Dettori generally has the last word. Dettori came from last to first in the final third of the race on Undrafted to win the Diamond Jubilee Stakes, the feature event on the final day of the Royal meeting, and, with no more rides to come on the card, eagerly gulped champagne as he soaked up the moment.

Where Dettori was typically exuberant, however, Wesley Ward, who had just become the first American trainer to saddle a Group One winner at this meeting, was closer to tears of exhaustion. Ward had spent Friday night and Saturday morning at Frimley hospital after Danae, his young daughter, was taken ill, and though she had recovered in time to accompany him to the winners’ enclosure, the strain had clearly taken a toll on her father.

“I don’t know what happened but my daughter got a touch of the Bell’s palsy,” Ward said. “This is unbelievable and really special for this little girl, she really wanted to come out here. It didn’t look like we were going to make it but we did.”

As soon as Ward manages to bank an untroubled nights’ sleep, the magnitude of his achievement here may fully dawn on him. Ward has had winners at this meeting, dating back to Jealous Again’s victory in the 2009 Queen Mary Stakes, but this was his first with an older horse, and in one of the week’s feature events. Undrafted also beat Brazen Beau, one of Australia’s best sprinters, into second place and Ward, who had a one-two at the Breeders’ Cup meeting at Santa Anita last November, immediately nominated Undrafted’s success as the highlight of his training career.

“The horse has been training unbelievably well,” Ward said. “But I tell you what, Frankie is superb. You can have a Porsche against Porsches, but you’ve still got to have the right guy and this is a magical guy. He’s a cool sitter and a go-getter, as they say.

“This is the biggest race I’ve won. I’ve won Breeders’ Cup and races here in the past, but to come here and be presented with a Group One trophy by the Queen was such a fantastic experience.”

Dettori was aboard Undrafted when he finished fourth in the July Cup at Newmarket last year – a race that may be the gelding’s next stop – and enjoyed every second of his surge through the final quarter mile.

“I won this when it was a Group Three but not as a Group One, so it was something that was missing on my CV,” Dettori said. “He struggled in the soft ground in the July Cup last year but he flew by me in the Breeders’ Cup when I rode No Nay Never [in the Turf Sprint].

“He jumped out of the gates like an American horse but I took a pull as I didn’t want to get there too early. I was trying to save a bit for the end. I kept an eye on the Australian horse and when we kicked on, I knew it would take a good one to get by him. When you sit on a sprinter like that, you get a great feeling.

“I didn’t want to kick too soon because I was going so well. I kept an eye on the yellow colours but every time this horse runs, he finishes strong so I saved the last bit for the end and it proved me right.”

Undrafted is part-owned by Wes Welker, a former wide receiver for New England and Denver Broncos in the NFL, who is currently being linked with a move to “America’s team”, the Dallas Cowboys. His horse’s achievement, Ward believes, may herald an influx of challengers from the United States at next year’s Royal meeting and beyond.

“They’ll be here now,” Ward said. “I get a lot of people asking me and saying they want to do it, but they’ll be figuring their own way to get over here and get their horses in order to get here in the best shape on the day.

“This is an international event and hopefully when they do come and get them right on the day, they won’t beat me, but if they do, they do. Ascot has been a big shot in the arm for my career.

“I think they’re a little wary of coming over because it’s a long way home if you get back, but with Graham [Motion, who saddled Miss Temple City to finish fourth in the Coronation Stakes] coming and running so well, they could be coming for all sorts of races.”

Snow Sky seemed likely to be racing in long-distance races after winning the Yorkshire Cup on his seasonal debut, but made all the running at 12-1 in the Group Two Hardwicke Stakes to prompt a possible change of plan for Sir Michael Stoute, his trainer.

Stoute also saddled Telescope, the favourite, but he faded rapidly as Snow Sky and Pat Smullen quickened at the top of the home straight. “That was a surprise but a nice one,” Stoute said. “We thought we might be going to Melbourne with him, now we might have to have a rethink but it’s not a bad problem to have.”

Stoute did not enter Snow Sky in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at this course next month, but the colt could be added to the race at the supplementary stage. “The King George has to come into it now,” Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to Prince Khalid Abdullah, Snow Sky’s owner, said. “It was a pretty exceptional performance.”

John Magnier and the Coolmore syndicate had apparently been waiting for a suitably exciting prospect to name after Aidan O’Brien’s stable, so Ballydoyle, a daughter of Galileo, must have been performing well on the gallops this year. She remains a maiden after two starts, however, having been touched off by Eoghan O’Neill’s Suits You in the Listed Chesham Stakes, the first race on the card.

Time may well show that Ballydoyle was the best horse in this field, as she was still showing signs of inexperience through most of the seven furlongs and then ran on strongly to go down by just a short-head. Suits You, though, is clearly talented too, and remains unbeaten after two races.

“It’s great to come back and this is our first Royal Ascot winner,” O’Neill, who trained in the Midlands before moving to a new base in Normandy in 2009. “He’s very smart and I kept him for this race because he’s by Youmzain and gets in under the conditions of the race [that a runner’s sire must have won over at least 10 furlongs]. He will run in France next and then come back for the [Group Two] Royal Lodge [at Newmarket on 26 September].”