FRANKIE Dettori has pointed towards Magical Memory being his best chance at Royal Ascot on the “biggest week” of his year.
The ever-popular Italian rides Ascot as well as anyone, and is the leading current jockey at the big fixture on 52 winners, ahead of Ryan Moore on 36.
Magical Memory heads to Ascot on the back of an eyecatching win in the Group Two Duke of York Clipper Logistics Stakes at last month’s Dante meeting on Knavesmire.
Dettori said: “Royal Ascot is the biggest week of my year. I travel all over the world, but Ascot is still at the top of the pile and the Royal meeting is the pinnacle.
“I said at the start of the season that I’d be making the Royal meeting one of my key targets this year. I’m not going all over the country again in a bid to be champion jockey, but when it comes to Royal Ascot week I am going all out to be top jockey.
“I know it won’t be easy, but I’ve had a good look at some of my rides and you write me off at your peril (to be top jockey for the week). I’m going to throw everything at next week and I can’t wait for it to arrive now.
“My best chance of the week could be with Magical Memory on Saturday in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes. Charlie (Hills) loves this sprinter and I do too. Charlie has a great ability with his sprinters and I don’t see a rival in the race that I’d rather be on.
“I know that Wesley Ward’s two-year-olds are going to have to fire if I’m to stand a chance, but I went down to Manton last week and they look tremendous. I’d say their preparations couldn’t have been better. It’s up to me now to show them to best effect.
“Lady Aurelia and Create A Dream both look picture perfect. Those two fillies really excite me.”
Speaking in his blog for Ladbrokes, Dettori said: “I’m on standby for Time Test and hoping it works out that I reunite with him after winning last year.
“I’m on Mehmas in the Coventry, who is second-favourite, and I rode Nemoralia for Jeremy (Noseda) earlier this week and she gave me a great feel (ahead of the Coronation Stakes).
“The St James’s Palace on the opening day looks high class. Everyone is excited about The Gurkha after what he did in France, but my own Guineas winner (Galileo Gold) is in tremendous shape,” he said.
“Awtaad is in there for what could be a sensational race and I’m keen to have another crack at turning the tables on him after what happened in Ireland.
“The more I talk about it the more I convince myself I’ve got a fighting chance next week. I grabbed three winners last year and hope to surpass that next week.”
Moore set a new best last season when becoming the first rider since the war to record nine winners during the meeting.
The former champion considers French 2000 Guineas winner The Gurkha as perhaps his best chance, in what looks like being a red-hot St James’s Palace Stakes on Tuesday.
He said: “Last year seems a long time ago now. I thought going into the meeting last year that I had three with definite chances but two of them got beat and only one won.”
When asked how it felt to ride the record number of post-war winners at a single Royal Ascot, beating the previous record of eight set by Lester Piggott and Pat Eddery, Moore said: “They were different eras and Royal Ascot is a different meeting now to how it was back then.”
He went on: “I am lucky to be riding for powerful stables and will have some nice rides. There is nothing I can think of that will definitely win but I should have some solid chances.
“I think my mount (in the St James’s Palace) The Gurkha should be able to handle both softer and faster ground.
“Order Of St George (favourite for the Gold Cup) is a very exciting horse and hasn’t done a lot wrong. It was a nice comeback win from him.”
Meanwhile, Newmarket trainer Ed Vaughan has two good chances to be in the York winner’s enclosure this afternoon courtesy of Mehronissa and Interconnection.
Mehronissa tackles the feature race on the seven-race card – the £30,000 EBF Breeders Series Fillies Handicap over six furlongs – and looks to have strong credentials on paper having won in good style on her seasonal debut at Haydock last month.
The daughter of Iffraaj, a winner on Knavesmire when both the Royal Ascot and St Leger Meetings paid a visit some 10 years ago, has two wins of her own at Newmarket and another at Windsor. Vaughan is optimistic that there is more improvement to come from her.
He said: “Mehronissa is entitled to have come on for her first run of the year and goes there in good form. She likes to get her toe in but is fine on good ground.
“She has a nice progressive profile and I think she is still improving. I hope that she can continue to progress with the main aim being to get some black type. A race like the Chipchase at Newcastle may be on the agenda if all goes to plan.”
Mehronissa carries the colours of Dubai-based owner Salem Rashid, who also owns Vaughan’s other representative Interconnection who will be tackling the 888sport.com Handicap over a mile and a quarter.
Vaughan added: “He has run well at York before and is suited by the long straight and galloping track.”