Frankie Dettori registered his first winner of Royal Ascot 2019 and 61st success overall at the Royal Meeting following the victory of 18/1 shot Raffle Prize in the £110,000 G2 Queen Mary Stakes on Wednesday.
Raffle Prize and Frankie Dettori win the Queen Mary Stakes, photo Liesl King
Trained by Mark Johnston, the two-year-old daughter of Slade Power wore down American raider and long-time leader Kimari (13/2), trained by Wesley Ward, to score by a head in the five-furlong contest.
Both the first and third were bred by Sheikh Mohammed's Godolophin operation, and the winner is owned by the Sheikh's son and heir, Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum.
The race was run in steady rain, and a bedraggled Dettori said: "When I saw Wesley's horse upsides, I thought oh my God, he's a good friend of mine, if I beat him, he will go crazy!
"My filly was very brave. She jumped good and I knew she had won over six furlongs, so when I saw Wesley's filly I decided to take her on early. The other filly [Kimari] had only run over four and a half furlongs.
"I knew that if it was a test of stamina she would give in sooner or later and in the final 200 metres I saw her stride start to shorten. I knew I had her.
"The rain is on top of the ground at the moment and it is riding good to soft, but I suspect by mid-afternoon it will be soft."
Johnston, saddling his 44th winner at Royal Ascot and first of the week, said: "Raffle Prize did it well today. People always ask you in the build-up to Royal Ascot about what your chances are at the Royal Meeting.
"However, you can never know your chance, particularly in these two-year-old races where most of the field are effectively maiden winners. There is nothing in the race with a great deal of form to go on.
"All you can do is run your best horses at the right time. Coming into Royal Ascot, we thought she deserved to be here, but you don't know how good your horses are going to be in relation to the others.
"We thought we had a great chance and I'm delighted she has won. No disrespect to Lester Piggott, but is Frankie Dettori not just the greatest jockey?
"He gave the horse a fantastic ride by tracking Wesley Ward's horse (Kimari) and he was so relaxed and confident - we could not have been in a better position in the race and you know you've got the right man on board for the last 100 yards too.
"We had some doubts about coming back to five furlongs with Raffle Prize because we weren't sure if she could mix it in a Queen Mary over this trip, but she did it well.
"We haven't looked beyond this and for any owner of a filly, the Queen Mary is the number one two-year-old race because everyone wants a Queen Mary winning broodmare - anything beyond this is a bonus."
Kimari and Raffle Prize duel for the lead, photo Liesl King
13/2 chance Kimari (John Velazquez) came agonisingly close to giving her US-based trainer Wesley Ward an 11th Royal Ascot success, finishing second by a head to Raffle Prize in the G2 £110,000 Queen Mary Stakes. Ward has already won the race three times.
"What are you gonna do?" he shrugged. "Obviously she likes the soft, which was a big concern beforehand, as Lady Aurelia did [Ward's 2016 Queen Mary Stakes heroine and also winner of the 2017 G1 King's Stand Stakes].
"If I hadn't had the success I've had in the past with being in the winner's enclosure here, I'd be elated. I'm proud that she ran so well. I'll talk to the owners and make a plan as to what we do next, but the good thing is that she likes the soft - that isn't going to be a concern."
Bill McEroy, racing manager for the owners Ten Broeck Farm and purchaser of Kimari, said: "It's up to Wesley what we do next. It's heart-breaking - that's twice.
"Sunset Glow [trained by Ward] got nipped on the wire five years ago in the Albany Stakes. For it to happen to Kimari as well is tough to swallow.
"She's a great filly. It's tough to come the whole way here - you need everything to go your way and the ground to be good and in your favour. That did not happen."
Saeed bin Suroor commented about the 6/1 favourite Final Song, who ran on in the final furlong to take third: "She ran well - I am happy with her.
"Final Song ran a big race, but I think she needs further - six or seven furlongs.
"She looks like a filly with a good future and there may be some Group races coming up for her in France."
Three horses running this week at Royal Ascot remain eligible for the Tattersalls Ascot £100,000 Breeze-up Bonus.
This new initiative is available to horses bought at the Tattersalls Ascot Breeze-Up Sale who go on to run at the Royal Meeting.
Ropey Guest was the first horse of the week to try to claim the valuable bonus, and the George Margason-trained Cable Bay colt, bought for £55,000, finished a fine sixth in the G2 Coventry Stakes on Tuesday.
Today, Richard Fahey sent out Flaming Princess (seventh in G2 Queen Mary Stakes), bought for £60,000, and will be represented later today by Summer Sands (Listed Windsor Castle Stakes), who cost £80,000 at the April sale.
On Friday, Michael O'Callaghan is aiming Lorelei Rock at the G3 Albany Stakes. The Camacho filly cost just £10,000 at the Ascot Tattersalls Breeze-up Sale.
Dettori flies off Raffle Prize, photo Liesl King
2.30pm Queen Mary Stakes (Group 2), 5f
1 Raffle Prize (Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum) Mark Johnston 2-9-00 Frankie Dettori 18/1
2 Kimari (Ten Broeck Farm Inc) Wesley Ward USA 2-9-00 John Velzaquez 13/2
3 Final Song (Godolphin) Saeed bin Suroor 2-9-00 Christophe Soumillon 6/1 fav
Time: 1m 1.58s
Distances: hd, 1
Tote Win: £16.90 Places: £5.05, £3.25, £4.00 Exacta: £330.60
Breeding: ch f Slade Power (IRE) - Summer Fete (IRE) (Pivotal (GB))
Mark Johnston - 44th Royal Ascot winner
Frankie Dettori - 61st Royal Ascot winner