Gosden salutes the magic of Dettori following final Royal Ascot

His close friend John Gosden put it best – Frankie Dettori has taken the blows and still come out on top.

The Newmarket trainer will be in his corner for the duration of the Italian’s long farewell season, as he has been throughout.

Bookmakers may have dodged a few body blows at Ascot, yet the lush green strip of Berkshire turf, the scene of his 1996 ‘Magnificent Seven’, has always been Dettori’s favourite area.

A Gold Cup and three further winners made it 81 career victories at Royal Ascot, the most prestigious of meetings.

Gosden knows exactly what the week meant to the 52-year-old.

He said: “It was a huge week for him. He was very, very keen to go out at the top, not to become suddenly this sad, unwanted figure.”

Epsom and Royal Ascot are the only Flat events that really matter to those with an idle interest in the sport. Victory in the Coronation Cup and the Oaks had given the Italian the spotlight he thrives upon.

Ascot Gold Cup glory aboard inexperienced partner Courage Mon Ami ticked the second box and will surely have been enough to secure him a BBC Sports Personality of the Year nomination at the very least.

Dettori’s career, the highs and lows, the ecstasy, showmanship and mood swings, is well documented.

What is not, is the important part he has played behind the scenes for Gosden and his son Thady, who will some day take over at Clarehaven.

“We have had a lot of fun together, from 1993-94 onwards, we’ve had a lot of fun,” said Gosden senior.

“When he arrived on my doorstep during the first year and he’d shaved his head, I thought he’d sent his cousin!

“Three years champion jockey, then the Godolphin job, then that ended. He was knocking around a bit.

“In 2008 he won a Breeders’ Cup Classic (with Raven’s Pass) for me – that is not easily forgotten, between the end of Godolphin and the beginning of our run.

“William (Buick) went to Godolphin and then we’ve had an absolute ball since then, from Golden Horn (winning the Derby) on through with Enable and all those fabulous horses.”

Gosden was there for him when things went sour at Godolphin, when he was handed a six-month suspension after a failed a drug test in France, when he was at his lowest.

“If you check the stats, he had a terrible year with 16 winners,” added the trainer, referring to his annus horribilis in 2013, after which he renewed his partnership. “He knows what it’s like to be shoved into the twilight zone.”

Every low point, the omnipresent Gosden was the father figure, sometimes stern, sometimes frustrated, always adoring, unwavering in the belief that Dettori’s ability could overcome any pitfalls.

They have had their ups and down, of course. Just 12 months ago, all was not well during a terrible Ascot, capped by Stradivarius’ defeat in the Gold Cup.

Arguably, he received a thinly-veiled kick up the backside from Gosden for his work ethic, though the trainer refutes that.

“After his lean spell, he just came to me and had nice horses to ride and we worked together as a team. He never ever needed that (kick up the backside). Every marriage has its ebbs and flows and last year was no different. It was quickly forgotten.”

The last two Royal meetings could arguably be a microcosm of Dettori’s career.

There is another six months of the final chapter to write, yet the Gold Cup – his ninth – could be the crowning moment, two days after picking up a nine-day careless riding ban aboard the King and Queen’s Saga in the Wolferton Stakes.

The story of this year’s renewal? To some, it will be this – has a Gold Cup winner ever been given a cooler or more stylish ride? Until a few strides before the final furlong, Dettori did not visibly move a muscle.

He kidded the free-going Courage Mon Ami round the final turn, saving ground, and while for a split second it looked as if the bird – Coltrane – had flown, the imperious Dettori waited, daringly switching left under two furlongs out.

Such was his ease of success in the end, it seemed as if the first time he took his hands off the reins was to thrust a right-hand skywards in a triumphant salute. That was not the case, of course. It took plenty of guile and muscle for the rider to redress the deficit.

If Gosden was surprised the four-year-old, with just three previous runs, had won, his emotions were the polar opposite for the ride, a gift honed on those oft-cold winter mornings on the gallops.

“You give him nice horses, have him come in the morning, discuss the horses, he is a fabulous judge as a work-rider. Not all jockeys are like that,” revealed Gosden.

“Great judge, Frankie. Gives you a very good idea of where you are going, where you are not going. He’s quick to feel that.

“It is one of his great assets is as a jockey in the morning. The afternoon is one thing, but the morning is fantastic. It is the intuition, feel and experience he has with horses. The feel, the instinctive feel – he has that.

“His father was champion jockey, his mother came from an amazing circus family, he was bred to be a phenomenal athlete. It’s great, it was just that time before he joined me again in 2015 when it wasn’t pleasant to witness.

“But now he’s through, we’ve had a wonderful run. We’ve had some great fun. He’s had a great Ascot and it’s great to go out and walk away carrying all the belts, not being on the bottom of the canvas.”

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