Dettori off the mark with textbook front-running ride on Gregory in Queen’s Vase
Frankie Dettori entered the Royal Ascot winner’s enclosure for the first time in 2023 after driving Gregory to a popular length-and-a-half success in the G2 Queen’s Vase.
The even-money favourite is now unbeaten in three starts for John & Thady Gosden after digging in gamely to repel a persistent challenge from Saint George in the closing stages.
Dettori, who rode three seconds on opening day of the meeting, has now partnered 78 Royal Ascot winners, with his first coming 33 years ago.
Chesspiece, the first horse to run in the Godolphin silks for Simon & Ed Crisford, finished a further three and three-quarter lengths behind Saint George in third.
Dettori said: “I thought this winner was never going to come this year. I had three seconds yesterday, but I thought this horse was my best chance today.
“I knew this horse was good enough, but I wasn’t so sure about his experience. He is very laid-back at home and I thought if he doesn’t jump, he will get lost, but he jumped great, I got him to the front and I knew he would stay very well.
“I was in front for a long time and, when Oisin [Murphy, on runner-up Saint George] came to me, I thought ‘oh, no, not another second’. To this horse’s credit he really stuck his neck out.
“He was like a sleeping giant in the yard, and all of a sudden he’s a Royal Ascot winner. Potentially, he could be a nice St Leger horse for the end of the season, but John and Thady will work something out.
“It’s my last Royal Ascot and to ride a winner is fantastic. It’s amazing the reception I got because it’s my last season – I’m both sad and happy. I’ve got another three days here and it’s nice to get one on the board.
“Ascot very kindly gave me a box for my family today and most of them are here, so I’m glad I could ride a winner in front of them.”
Thady Gosden said: “Gregory is a horse who has only ever run twice in his life before today. He is still very inexperienced and has improved with every start.
“It was bit uncertain today as with the 14-furlong start, you’re straight into the bend, and it was whether the horse broke well and had the nous to get a good position. But obviously he got up there and took the lead. Frankie rode the fractions perfectly, he picked up very well in the straight and kept on finding.
“He obviously never ran last year at two, but he always looked a nice staying colt for this year. He’s by Golden Horn, out of Gretchen, a very good family for this sort of distance and possibly further. He’s also a horse who likes top of the ground as well, so it’s all worked out.”
On where the horse will go next, he said: “We shall have to see how he comes out of it. The ultimate target we are looking at is the St Leger and we will see where we go before that – we could possibly drop him back in trip.”
Saint George’s trainer Andrew Balding said: “He has run a great race. He’s still relatively inexperienced, as is the winner, but he’s improving with every run, so it’s exciting.”
Oisin Murphy added: “Saint George travelled super and I thought I might be able to come and get the winner, but it was a good battle and they pulled well clear of the rest. Two nice staying horses.”
5.35pm Queen’s Vase (Group 2)
1 Gregory (Wathnan Racing) John & Thady Gosden 3-9-02 Frankie Dettori EvsF
2 Saint George (Qatar Racing Limited) Andrew Balding 3-9-02 Oisin Murphy 10/1
3 Chesspiece (Godolphin) Simon & Ed Crisford 3-9-02 James Doyle 11/2
*John & Thady Gosden – 62nd Royal Ascot winner, including partnerships
Frankie Dettori – 78th Royal Ascot winner
*John Gosden trained 55 Royal Ascot winners in his own name
Sectional times: https://royalascot2023.racenewslive.co.uk/sectional-times/