IT was Forza Italia on Thursday as Frankie Dettori romped into the record books with a scintillating four-timer at Royal Ascot.
Victories in the opening quartet of races ignited dreams of a clean sweep, but that dream was sadly extinguished in the Britannia as Turgenev got collared in the final strides.
The afternoon brought to mind his ‘Magnficent 7’ back in 1996, when he rode all seven races on the card.
However, that was an occasion significantly less ‘Royal’ than today’s, and it would have been one of the all-time remarkable achievements had he managed to ride the final two winners.
And it looked so likely for so long.
Following victories on A’Ali in the Norfolk, Sangarius in the Hampton Court, Star Catcher in the Ribblesdale and Stradivarius in the Gold Cup, Dettori took the reins on Turgenev, punted from 20-1 into 5-2 favouritism in arguably the most competitive contest of the week.
Taking the lead from an early stage, he quickly established a decent advantage – and then began to draw further and further clear.
With a furlong to go, the five-timer was well and truly on.
But you need an awful lot of luck in a race like the Britannia.
With twenty-nine rivals, all as unexposed as each other, you’re counting on your horse to be that little bit better-handicapped than the rest.
And unfortunately, there was one who hadn’t read the script.
Biometric, with form figures of 112, saw his chance to add another 1 to his tally and flew down the outside to overhaul Frankie in the shadows of the post.
Kudos must be awarded to Harry Bentley, who gave the winner a peach, but it wasn’t the result anyone wanted.
The mood of the crowd was sombre afterwards, as is the mood of any crowd when history has been snatched from its grasp.
And so we’re left to ponder what might have been.
But that’s not to say we can’t look back on four sensational rides, as we saw the whole range of Dettori’s talents over the course of the afternoon.
On Sangarius he was bold to get through a gap. On Stradivarius he was patient and, most importantly, composed. On Star Catcher he was strong. And on A’Ali he was clever.
Whether he’s the greatest jockey of all time is up for debate.
But one thing’s for sure: there’s never been a better jockey at riding the hallowed Ascot turf.