Racing

Dettori and O'Brien hog limelight on British Champions Day

Frankie Dettori stole the show with a British Champions Day double at Ascot on Saturday, as master Irish trainer Aidan O'Brien celebrated a record-equalling 25th top-tier winner of the season.

Dettori added another chapter to his golden year when the flamboyant Italian horseman punched home 13-8 favourite Cracksman in the Champion Stakes to follow up his success on Persuasive in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.

He was all smiles as he accepted the race trophy after the QEII Stakes from Queen Elizabeth II, Britain's 91-year-old monarch and avid racing fan braving the blustery conditions at Britain's richest race day.

Both Cracksman, who won by seven lengths from Poet's Word, and Persuasive were trained by John Gosden, who with Dettori on board won this month's Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe at Chantilly in France with Enable.

"Frankie rode him positively and beautifully in the straight," Gosden told ITV.

"We said to come wide and he has done it well. You can see why I didn't want him to run (in the Arc) - I don't know, him and Enable would be fun. There's not much between them, is there?"

Dettori, winning his first Champion Stakes, added: "He put a good field to bed in the manner of a champion.

"He has been working so sweetly and it's fantastic. He's a true champion and he deserves it - there's a lot more to come from him."

Cracksman is a son of the imperious Frankel, who rounded off his brilliant career in the Champion Stakes five years ago.

Frankel was named in honour of the late American trainer Bobby Frankel, whose record of 25 Grade 1 wins in a year was matched by O'Brien when the master Irish handler sent out Hydrangea to take the Fillies And Mares race earlier in the day.

O'Brien missed out on claiming the record outright when Churchill had to settle for third behind Persuasive in the mile feature and Highland Reel filling the same position behind Cracksman in the day's centrepiece.

O'Brien typically declined to take personal credit for the achievement, instead praising his team at his Ballydoyle stables in Ireland, supported by the mighty Coolmore breeding operation.

"It's a credit for everyone, everyone puts in a lot of hard work, I'm so grateful to be a little link in the chain," the 48-year-old Irishman told ITV.

Frankel's record has stood for 14 years, with O'Brien twice getting close, when he trained 23 winners in 2001 and 2008.

O'Brien will try and claim it on his own next weekend when he has Group 1 contenders in England and France.

His rich harvest of winners in 2017 has included the winners of four of the five English classics with Churchill and Winter annexing the 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas, Wings Of Eagles winning the Epsom Derby and Capri, his Irish Derby hero, scraping home in the St Leger. - AFP.

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