Racing

Dettori aims for 8th Ascot Gold Cup

His mount, Stradivarius, eyeing hat-trick in Group 1 feature over 4,000m

Star jockey Frankie Dettori's chances of an eighth win in the meeting's most historic race - the Ascot Gold Cup - and guiding Stradivarius to a third successive victory have been boosted considerably, with trainer Aidan O'Brien deciding not to send Kew Gardens over from Ireland.

Stradivarius warmed up for tomorrow's Group 1 feature with a respectable third in the Coronation Cup at Newmarket more than a week ago over a much shorter distance than the 4,000m of the Gold Cup.

"Stradivarius ticks the boxes," said the 49-year-old Dettori, whose first Gold Cup win was in 1992 on Drum Taps.

"This has always been the target. He is as good as we can get him and he is good to go."

Should Stradivarius win, do not expect the trademark flying dismount from Dettori.

"I had a couple of winners at Newmarket last weekend and returned to an empty enclosure... it was pretty anti-climactic," he said. "So I did not do them there and I don't feel like doing it at Ascot."

Dettori won the 2001 Singapore Gold Cup on Kutub and the 2002 Singapore Airlines International Cup on Grandera.

Stradivarius' principal challenger could well be Nayef Road, who warmed up for the race with an impressive win in the Sagaro Stakes.

His trainer, Mark Johnston, has won the Gold Cup three times - his first Royal Ascot winner was Double Trigger in 1995 - and it remains very much the prize he covets the most.

"The big excitement will be Nayef Road in the Gold Cup and he has a great chance," said Johnston.

"It is an undisputed fact there are more commercially attractive races at Royal Ascot. But there is no race I would prefer to win than the Gold Cup." - AFP

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