Gold Cup Glory For Frankel's Courage Mon Ami And Frankie

Courage Mon Ami gives Frankie Dettori his ninth Gold Cup victory | Megan Ridgwell


Burying the unhappiness of his loss on Stradivarius at what turned out to be a controversial Royal Ascot 12 months ago, Frankie Dettori sealed immortality at the track that has done so much to elevate him with a heartstopping G1 Gold Cup victory on Wathnan Racing's Courage Mon Ami (GB) (Frankel {GB}–Crimson Ribbon, by Lemon Drop Kid). Capping a day of days in the history of the distinguished meeting, what amounted to a brilliant piece of placing by the Gosdens saw the untried and raw 4-year-old defy all this great race's stats and trends. Thrown in at the deep end after a trio of wins on the all-weather and a Goodwood handicap by a cumulative margin of 13 3/4 lengths, the Oppenheimer-bred was up another six furlongs but his odds of 15-2 told the real story about the regard in which he is held at Clarehaven.

Always travelling strongly towards the rear as the 2021 hero Subjectivist (GB) (Teofilo {Ire}) took the race by the scruff of the neck, he was threaded up the rail to overhaul the 11-4 favourite Coltrane (Ire) (Mastercraftsman {Ire}) inside the final furlong. Despite that veteran battling back, it was Royal winner number 79 and the ultimate sign-off for Dettori as he asserted to score by 3/4 of a length with Subjectivist fading to be 3 3/4 lengths behind in third. The win was the third Group 1 of the week for Frankel, with Juddmonte's kingpin seemingly assuming the mantle of the King of Royal Ascot.

“I thought it was a bridge too far from handicaps to Group 1, but I had the perfect trip,” Frankie said. “I didn't expect it. The last five years I've had Stradivarius, so the pressure was on. This one I thought was a bit of a chancer, but John was confident. It's unbelievable, on my last year winning the Gold Cup. Myself, The King and Queen Camilla had a talk beforehand about his win and my relationship with his mother, Queen Elizabeth, then the next race I go on and win the Gold Cup and he presents the trophy. It's amazing, really amazing.”


Just how steep the learning curve of Courage Mon Ami has been can be evidenced by his debut in September when carrying the Oppenheimer silks in a 12-furlong Kempton novice. Blowing the start and several lengths behind the rest of the field early, he was still able to produce a sustained effort to win comfortably and even though his final start as an entire colt in October saw him double up in more professional manner on Newcastle's Tapeta, it was not until his comeback at Goodwood last month that targeting this race seemed even remotely realistic.

Upsetting a host of proven group 1 performers going so far into the unknown trip-wise in one of the world's toughest races would normally be an insurmountable task for a horse of such little seasoning, but Courage Mon Ami has rare quality. Settled on the fence as Stradivarius was 12 months ago, he was able to coast through most of the first two miles but as the stable's three-time winner had been in the last two renewals was also a hostage to fortune as the action hotted up. Denied an out approaching the home turn, Frankie was forced back to the inner but unlike last year saw it all open up in front of him like a symbolic parting of the waves.

Unleashing a 11.93 split between the three and the two to enter the fight, Courage Mon Ami had to switch around Coltrane as that rival took over from the tiring Lone Eagle (Ire) (Galileo {Ire}) but by now the fledgling stayer's blood was up. Ahead at the furlong marker, the winner was the freshest horse for the finale where Frankie's innate poise was evident despite all the emotion and pressure of the moment.

“I wanted to swing out wide but Stéphane [Pasquier] kept me in and actually won me the race, because I cut the corner and it happened,” Frankie added. “I got the splits when I wanted to and in fairness he showed a turn of foot. He's still a baby, but when Coltrane came back he picked up again. John's a great trainer and he does things like that. Sometimes if I don't believe it I just go along with it! My kids shook hands with The King afterwards and are old enough to understand now. For the last 18 years, they've just thought I was a guy on the TV, maybe like Peppa Pig or something!”

Even by John Gosden's standards, this was a supreme piece of training and unlike anything in the history of the great race. “I don't think I'll try that again,” he quipped in reference to the winner's inexperience. “He's always looked smart, but as you can tell by the size of him he's taken plenty of time to mature. You can't practise two and a half miles at home, but Frankie stayed cool and rode him cool in the dark down the inside, saving every inch.”

“Courage Mon Ami is a lovely horse and has gone from the all-weather to Goodwood to here, so full credit to him,” Gosden Sr added. “You'd like to think he's still maturing now and can still improve. [Bloodstock agent] Richard Brown has done a very clever job, as he was asked to find horses to come to Royal Ascot for Wathnan Racing and they are hard to buy. Gregory and Courage Mon Ami were owner-breeder horses and the costs of keeping a stud going means owners have to sell.”

“It crowns Frankie's week,” he concluded. “He's had a phenomenal career. We've been working together on and off for thirty years and had one argument in that time. How many marriages can say that? We patched that up after five days and were winning group ones in Deauville straight after and kicked on after that. Look at the result today.”

Coltrane's rider Oisin Murphy said of the gallant runner-up, now officially one of Britain's leading stayers representing the vintage class of 2022 alone, “He relaxed great and travelled round super. I felt I could go and win the race. Frankie's come with me and it was a good battle and Frankie came out on top.”

Subjectivist was back to his best with a stirring effort which drew the sting from all bar two of his rivals and Charlie Johnston was understandably proud. “He's run a great race,” he said. “I was sort of expecting he would win or we would be out with the washing! It's been a long road and just being here is pretty special. Let's hope he's okay and we can go again.”

Pedigree Notes
Courage Mon Ami becomes the 31st group 1 winner for Frankel, whose presence at this year's Royal Ascot has confirmed his ever-elevating status. The dam Crimson Ribbon, who scored over a mile and a half, has also produced the Listed Chalice S. scorer and G3 Pinnacle S. runner-up Crimson Rosette (Ire), the Australian stakes winner and group 3-placed Astronomos (GB) and the listed-placed Purple Ribbon (GB) all by other sons of Galileo in Teofilo (Ire), New Approach (Ire) and Gleneagles (Ire) respectively.

Crimson Ribbon is a full-sister to Bronze Cannon, who captured the G2 Hardwicke S. at this meeting as well as the G2 Jockey Club S., and to the GIII My Charmer H. scorer Valiant Girl while her half-brother Across The Stars (Ire) (Sea The Stars {Ire}) was successful under Frankie in the 2016 G2 King Edward VII S. The listed-placed second dam Victoria Cross (Ire) (Mark Of Esteem {Ire}) is out of the G2 Park Hill S. runner-up Glowing With Pride (GB) (Ile de Bourbon), whose three other stakes performer are headed by the GII San Marco H. winner and GI Hollywood Turf Cup-placed Prize Giving (GB) (Most Welcome {GB}). Crimson Ribbon also has the stable's once-raced 3-year-old colt Lion's Pride (GB) (Roaring Lion), a 2-year-old filly by Frankel's son Cracksman (GB) named Danielle (GB) and a yearling filly by Golden Horn (GB).

Thursday, Royal Ascot, Britain
GOLD CUP-G1, £600,000, Ascot, 6-22, 4yo/up, 19f 210yT, 4:20.97, g/f.
1–COURAGE MON AMI (GB), 129, g, 4, by Frankel (GB)
1st Dam: Crimson Ribbon, by Lemon Drop Kid
2nd Dam: Victoria Cross (Ire), by Mark Of Esteem (Ire)
3rd Dam: Glowing With Pride (GB), by Ile De Bourbon
1ST BLACK-TYPE WIN; 1ST GROUP WIN; 1ST GROUP 1 WIN. O-Wathnan Racing; B-Hascombe & Valiant Stud Ltd (GB); T-John & Thady Gosden; J-Lanfranco Dettori. £340,260. Lifetime Record: 4-4-0-0, $464,871. *1/2 to Crimson Rosette (Ire) (Teofilo {Ire}), SW & MGSP-Eng; Astronomos (GB) (New Approach {Ire}), SW & GSP-Aus, $220,908; and Purple Ribbon (GB) (Gleneagles {Ire}), SP-Eng. Werk Nick Rating: A. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree, or the free catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Coltrane (Ire), 130, g, 6, Mastercraftsman (Ire)–Promise Me (Ire), by Montjeu (Ire). 1ST GROUP 1 BLACK TYPE. (50,000gns Ylg '18 TATOCT). O-Mick & Janice Mariscotti; B-Rockfield Farm (IRE); T-Andrew Balding. £129,000.
3–Subjectivist (GB), 130, h, 6, Teofilo (Ire)–Reckoning (Ire), by Danehill Dancer (Ire). (62,000gns Ylg '18 TAOCT). O-Dr Jim Walker; B-Mascalls Stud (GB); T-Charlie Johnston. £64,560.
Margins: 3/4, 3 3/4, HD. Odds: 7.50, 2.75, 4.50.
Also Ran: Emily Dickinson (Ire), Nate The Great (GB), Yibir (GB), Eldar Eldarov (GB), Echoes In Rain (Fr), Lone Eagle (Ire), Broome (Ire), Big Call, Wise Eagle (Ire). Scratched: Tashkhan (Ire), Trueshan (Fr).

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