Dettori hits the jackpot with Raffle Prize in Queen Mary

Johnston filly gets the better of American raider Kimari in pulsating finish

  • Wednesday 19 June
  • News
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Frankie Dettori produced Raffle Prize with a perfectly-timed challenge to win the Queen Mary Stakes at Royal Ascot.

A maiden winner at Chester last time out, Raffle Prize was sent off an 18-1 chance for trainer Mark Johnston, and Dettori settled her in the pack as American raider Kimari took up a prominent early position.

The Wesley Ward-trained Kimari was in front with two of the five furlongs left to run, but Raffle Prize was just starting her move and swept through to edge into the lead.

While Kimari battled all the way to the line for John Velazquez, she could not get back in front, with Raffle Prize prevailing by a head to give the jubilant Dettori a 61st winner at the Royal meeting

Final Song, the 6-1 favourite, had to settle for third.

Performing his trademark flying dismount, Dettori said: “I knew it would take a good one to beat Wesley’s, but I knew mine had run over six (furlongs), so I took him on early and made it a true test of stamina and she had to give in sooner or later.

“I saw her stride shortening and I knew I had his horse. I had stamina on my side and I used that card.

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

Johnston said: “People are always asking you about your Royal Ascot chances. They are all effectively maiden winners running here. There’s nothing with a great deal of form to go on. All you can do is run your best horses at the time.

“We thought she deserved to be here, but you can’t say how good she is in relation to the others. We thought she had a great chance.”

Heaping praise on Dettori, the Middleham trainer said: “No disrespect to Lester Piggott, but isn’t Frankie Dettori just the greatest jockey? I could see him tracking Wesley Ward’s horse and Frankie looking reasonably relaxed and confident.

“You couldn’t be in a better position in a race and I knew we were tracking the right one.

“Frankie was a true professional as a young jockey back in 1993, and I know he is a superstar – on the big day he’s special.

“I don’t know where she’ll go next. We’ll go home and see.”

Ward – who often teams up with Dettori to great effect – said: “Frankie did me in. I was very concerned about the rain, but obviously she likes the soft, so that is a good thing moving forward.

“You don’t know which ones like the soft, but it shows she liked it, as did Lady Aurelia. If I hadn’t had the success I’ve had in the past, I would be elated, but I’m so happy and proud she has run well.

“We will talk to the owners and make a plan. The good thing is she likes the soft, but she will be fine on quick ground as well.”

Saeed bin Suroor said of Final Song: “The filly has done well. The jockey said six or seven furlongs could be better for her. We will find another Group race for here in England or France.

“She likes this ground, as she won on soft. I think she needs cut in the ground. I think the trip was a bit short for her, but she ran a big race.”

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