By Jon Lees
GB: John Gosden will be relying heavily on his older stars for wins at Royal Ascot after admitting he has his worst team of three-year-old horses “in living memory” this year.
The five-times champion trainer, who now operates in a partnership with son Thady, was not represented in either the Oaks or the Derby at Epsom last week where the stable did not have a single runner over the two day fixture.
So he will be looking to Palace Pier in the Queen Anne Stakes, Lord North in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, both part of the Qipco British Champions Series, and Stradivarius (Gold Cup) to lead the defence of the top trainer title he captured at last year’s royal meeting with six wins.
“Let’s be honest, we are totally dependent on our older horses and we’ve got a couple of nice two-year-olds, but I think our three-year-old crop to be quite honest is, sadly it’s the way it is, probably the worst I’ve had in living memory,” said Gosden, who is set to saddle the unbeaten three-year-old Mostahdaf in the G1 St James’s Palace Stakes.
“So you won’t see us particularly potent in any of the three-year-old races and it was probably noticeable that I didn’t have an entry at Epsom last weekend, which isn’t normal for us, but if you haven’t got them, you haven’t got them.”
Royal Ascot will be the busiest week of the year for 50-year-old Frankie Dettori who, though riding very selectively, has ridden the winners of both the 1,000 Guineas on Mother Earth and Oaks, on Snowfall. His ride on Palace Pier in the opening race will only be his eighth ride of the month.
“I warned him this morning ‘At your age taking a full book of rides a couple of days running, we will have to bring the oxygen mask on halfway through’!” said Gosden.
He went on, “He’s an extraordinary athlete. He had a wonderful reign with Godolphin. He’s been back with me since 2017. Naturally he is more selective and there’s no point thinking on a wet afternoon at Brighton that he’s your man, he’s not.
“To save him for the big occasions, he’s riding work on the horses he knows. I tend not to put him on two-year-olds first time out because we did that a couple of years ago at Yarmouth and she dropped him in the paddock and he cracked his shoulder and he missed the whole of Ascot. We learn by our mistakes.”
• Visit the Qipco British Champions Series website