The rift between Frankie Dettori and John Gosden is so deep that the Italian will not ride Stradivarius on UK soil for the first time in four years when the horse targets a historic fifth Goodwood Cup on July 26.
The pair agreed to take a mutual ‘sabbatical’ from their jockey-trainer partnership after Gosden admitted feeling let down by some of Dettori’s rides at Royal Ascot, although they reunited successfully at Newmarket on July 7 when the legendary rider guided Mighty Ulysses to victory in the Sir Henry Cecil Stakes.
Dettori also took the ride on Gosden’s Inspiral in the Falmouth Stakes, finishing second, and it appeared as if the duo had buried the hatchet.
“Maybe John was right and I needed a sabbatical!” Dettori said after his win aboard Mighty Ulysses.
“I would be the first one to say I probably had the worst Ascot in my 35-year career.
“I am 51 and John is 71. We are not kids any more. We sorted things out – what is past is past, and I’m glad I had a winner on my first ride back for him. I have known John for 30 years and will be forever grateful for what he has done for me, as a friend and for my career.”
However, the decision has been taken to pull Dettori off Stradivarius, who he has ridden in 20 of the eight-year-old’s last 21 races, and replace him with countryman Andrea Atzeni instead.
Atzeni guided the horse to back-to-back wins in the Goodwood Cup in 2017 and ’18, and owner Bjorn Nielsen said:
“Frankie Dettori, who has enjoyed a great relationship with Stradivarius and ridden him to many brilliant stakes victories, more than he has any other horse, will by mutual agreement give up the ride to Andrea Atzeni in the Goodwood Cup.”
It appears as though Dettori has paid the price for a ride in the Ascot Gold Cup aboard Stradivarius that was subsequently criticised.
For the second year in a row in the race, the Italian find himself blocked off by traffic in the stellar field, and in desperation switched his mount out wide – leaving Stradivarius with too much to do to chase down Kyprios, who he is expected to lock horns with again in the Goodwood Cup.
Some observers, including Gosden, were critical of Dettori’s ride, and to make matters even worse he was subsequently suspended for two days after breaching whip usage rules.
It’s rumoured that the run out at Goodwood will be Stradivarius’ last before retirement, and romanticists will see it as a crying shame that Dettori won’t be able to partner this era-defining horse in his final hurrah.
Together, they have plundered Flat racing for the best part of five years, combining for nine wins in a row between May 2018 to October 2019 that included the Ascot Gold Cup, and the British Champions Long Distance Cup.
Defeat in the 2019 Long Distance Cup brought an end to that run, but their winning partnership was renewed the following year when another Gold Cup and a third Goodwood Cup – the first with Dettori in the saddle – were landed.
More Group success followed in 2021 and earlier this year too, and for all Dettori’s decades in the saddle you suspect it’s the heroics of Stradivarius that he will be best be remembered for.