Dettori picks lucky dip with Raffle Prize; Crystal Ocean wins Prince of Wales’ Stakes - GulfToday

Dettori picks lucky dip with Raffle Prize; Crystal Ocean wins Prince of Wales’ Stakes

Horseracing

Raffle Prize (right), ridden by Frankie Dettori, races towards the finishing line to win the Queen Mary Stakes race on Wednesday.

Frankie Dettori got off the mark for the week at Royal Ascot when teaming up with Mark Johnston to win the Queen Mary Stakes, courtesy of Raffle Prize.

The 18-1 winner narrowly denied Kimari, who was bidding to give American trainer Wesley Ward another juvenile winner at the meeting.

Raffle Prize, owned by Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, gamely beat American challenger Kimari by a head in 1m 1.58s on good to soft ground.

It was nip and tuck inside the final furlong, but Dettori used all his experience to get up inside the final few strides and land his 61st Royal Ascot winner — going on to treat the crowd to a flying dismount.

Dettori told ITV Racing: “I don’t normally like riding in the rain, but I don’t mind it at Ascot!

“This filly has been running over six furlongs, so when I saw I was up against one of Wesley’s, who had only been running over four and a half, I knew I’d outstay her.

“I could here the crowd shouting me on, but when it gets the close it’s in the lap of the gods.”

Johnston said: “People always ask me about my best chances at Ascot, but how can you know when there’s so little form to go on in races like this?

“We thought she deserved to be here and thought she had a great chance.

“I heard Frankie referred to the other day as the greatest jockey with the exception of Lester Piggott. With no disrespect to Lester, is he (Frankie) not just the greatest jockey - he was fantastic there.”

Final Song confirmed the promise of her debut victory with a staying-on third.

The two-year-old Dark Angel filly, a five-length winner over the same course and distance for trainer Saeed Bin Suroor on May 10, broke smartly from her high draw (23) and soon settled behind the leaders towards the stands’ side under Christophe Soumillon as the field split into two groups.

Suroor commented: “She ran well – I am happy with her.

“Final Song ran a big race, but I think she needs further – six or seven furlongs.

“She looks like a filly with a good future and there may be some races coming up for her in France.”

Meanwhile, Crystal Ocean graduated to Group One class as he lifted the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Trained by Sir Michael Stoute, Crystal Ocean had finished second at the highest level twice last term, but he finally came good as he outbattled Aidan O’Brien’s Magical in the 10-furlong showpiece, which was run in pouring rain.

Given a masterful ride by Dettori, Crystal Ocean (3-1) raced on the heels of pace-setter Hunting Horn until the race began in earnest turning for home.

Dettori committed early and moved out to the middle of the track as 13-8 favourite Magical struggled to go with him, before he just started to drift back to the far rail.

Ryan Moore switched Magical to the inside for a second run, but Crystal Ocean was not for passing and Dettori stood up in his irons before the line, coming home a length-and-a-quarter winner.

Andre Fabre’s Waldgeist made up late ground to take third, while the William Haggas-trained Sea Of Class was fifth of the eight runners on her seasonal bow, having run despite concerns over the rain-softened conditions.

Stoute — enhancing his record as the all-time leading trainer at the Royal meeting with his 80th success - said: “It was great team work. Several people ride him work, including Ted Durcan.

“He’s been very consistent. If you look at his record, it’s quite amazing. It’s great for the (Southcourt) stud to have a Group One horse.

“I thought he ran very well in the Champion Stakes last year. He ran better than I thought.

“He may be better at a mile and a half, but he’s certainly a pretty good horse at a mile and a quarter and he’s proved that today.”