'It's Hollywood Script': King of Steel Gives Frankie Magic Champion Finale

King Of Steel and Frankie DettoriMegan Rose Photography

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Ascot is really where it all began for Frankie Dettori and after Saturday's opening salvo of QIPCO Champions Day it looked to have already given that farewell gift, but there was one final blessing to be bestowed on its favourite son as Amo Racing's King Of Steel (Wootton Bassett {GB}–Eldacar {GB}, by Verglas {Ire}) prevailed in the G1 QIPCO Champion S., a “Win and You're In” for the GI Breeders' Cup Turf. As deep into the feature 10-furlong contest as the final 100 yards, the glorious sign-off looked unlikely to occur but this is a talisman of the sport with a wave of sentiment and encouragement behind him and the combination lifted the giant colt past Via Sistina (Ire) (Fastnet Rock {Aus}) very late in the piece.

“It's Hollywood script,” Frankie said in the immediate aftermath of what should be his last flying dismount on European soil from the Roger Varian-trained grey, who was himself at last gaining compensation for his painful defeat in the Derby. “The scream from the crowd I got was unbelievable–I thought they were special in the first race, but this was another level. I don't know if it's real at this moment–what a feeling, it's a fairytale ending for me. Ascot is my home and I'm pretty emotional.

“He struggled from the beginning, I couldn't get him to travel and he was stumbling in the ground but he started to come good and found a second wind and dug deep. The crowd got behind me and got him over the line.”

This was a Champion which required stamina, guts and determination as well as the usual given of high-class ability. One by one the main contenders showed their hands in the straight with Horizon Dore (Fr) (Dabirsim {Fr}) and Via Sistina the last two to do so with the mare looking to hold all the aces heading to the furlong pole. King Of Steel, who had spent much of the race playing catch-up in rear, was making some inroads driving for home but seemingly at an all-too-slow rate until the moment came.

Passing the furlong pole, the flash of hope for the dream outcome lit the gloom as Via Sistina's jockey Oisin Murphy dropped his whip and Frankie threaded his reins to prompt a surge from the colossus underneath. From that point, it was going to happen. As he passed Via Sistina in that dramatic last 50 yards, all the occasion's momentum wrought out a heart-stopping 3/4-of-a-length success from the game mare, as Horizon Dore faded out two lengths away in third.

While the post-race emphasis was understandably about the man on top, all credit must be given to Roger Varian for his handling of such a large athlete and to the colt in question, who has endured some hard knocks this term only to come back revived each time. He had already placed himself among the elite when mustering that brilliant effort in the Derby on his seasonal debut.

Putting up a performance that would have won many recent Blue Ribands only to lose out late to the marginally more brilliant Auguste Rodin (Ire) (Deep Impact {Jpn}), he was sent here to boss the Royal meeting's G2 King Edward VII S. 20 days later and flew the flag for the 3-year-old generation when third in the King George. Only a length behind Auguste Rodin in a gruelling G1 Irish Champion S. at Leopardstown last month, King Of Steel would have been forgiven for backing out when the going got tough here but just does not know how to.

“He's done well to come from the back, very tough,” Varian said. “He's a very agile horse and I don't think his size has stopped him. The ground is hard for all of them, but he has a big engine, big set of lungs and he's got through the line–a big heart and a big effort. What a story and what a moment to be involved in for us and for everyone. What a great moment for racing.”

For Kia Joorabchian, the day was the momentous one he had been searching for since beginning his heavy investment into the sport. “Frankie the king of Ascot, King Of Steel, he deserved that. What a ride, what a ride,” he said. “I'm so happy for Frankie, he deserved this more than anything in the world. To finish like that, I mean, he called me and said 'can I ride King Of Steel' and I said 'what can I say to that, of course you can'. It's wonderful, what an incredible atmosphere and this is all for Frankie and he deserves it. This guy deserves it too, he's come second in the Derby and we've put him in some really tough tests and he's come through and I'm so happy for the both of them.”

George Boughey said of Via Sistina, “She has run a blinder. Obviously, we were beaten by a superstar horse and a superstar jockey! I am delighted for Kia–he's a big supporter of the yard. We had a bit of dinner last night and we were talking about getting the one-two and I hoped it might be the other way! But she's a star and the best horse I've trained. She is in the Mares' Sale, so I imagine she will go there and I would love someone to buy her and send her back, because she could win a big one. She is obviously very, very high-class.”

Pedigree Notes

King Of Steel is currently the last known foal out of Eldacar, a full-sister to the G2 Prix de Pomone and G2 Prix de Royallieu runner-up Miss Crissy (Ire) and a granddaughter of the Listed Prix Yacowlef winner and G3 Prix du Calvados-placed Seralia (GB) (Royal Academy). The latter produced three black-type performers including the G3 Prix de Psyche winner Serisia (Fr) (Exit To Nowhere), who was in turn responsible for the G1 Chipping Norton S. and G1 Ranvet S.-winning Australian champion miler Contributer (Ire) (High Chaparral {Ire}).

A half-sister to Exit To Nowhere's G1 Criterium de Saint-Cloud winner Shaka (GB), she is also the ancestress of Le Havre's multiple group-placed duo Sotteville (Fr) and Crisolles (Fr) and the Listed Prix de la Californie scorer and G3 Prix Texanita third Straight Right (Fr) (Siyouni {Fr}). This is also the family of the G3 Prix d'Arenberg winner Sorciere (Ire) (Orpen), dam of this year's G2 Hungerford S. winner Witch Hunter (Fr) also by Siyouni.

 

 

Saturday, Ascot, Britain
QIPCO CHAMPION S.-G1, £1,300,000, Ascot, 10-21, 3yo/up, 10fT, 2:08.42, sf.
1–KING OF STEEL, 129, c, 3, by Wootton Bassett (GB)
1st Dam: Eldacar (GB), by Verglas (Ire)
2nd Dam: Seracina (GB), by Nashwan
3rd Dam: Seralia (GB), by Royal Academy
1ST GROUP 1 WIN. ($200,000 Ylg '21 KEESEP). O-Amo Racing Ltd; B-Bonne Chance Farm LLC (KY); T-Roger Varian; J-Lanfranco Dettori. £737,230. Lifetime Record: 7-3-1-1, $1,725,512. Werk Nick Rating: A++. Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree, or the free Equineline.com catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Via Sistina (Ire), 130, m, 5, Fastnet Rock (Aus)–Nigh (Ire), by Galileo (Ire). (5,000gns Ylg '19 TADEYG). O-Mrs R G Hillen; B-Laundry Cottage Stud Farm (IRE); T-George Boughey. £279,500.
3–Horizon Dore (Fr), 129, g, 3, Dabirsim (Fr)–Sweet Alabama (Fr), by Enrique (GB). 1ST GROUP 1 BLACK TYPE. (€45,000 Ylg '21 ARAUG). O-Gousserie Racing, Ecurie du Sud, Ecurie Gribomont, Daniel Dumoulin, Mlle Chantal Becq & Mme Francoise Delaunay; B-Mme Chantal Becq (FR); T-Patrice Cottier. £139,880.
Margins: 3/4, 2, HD. Odds: 3.00, 5.50, 4.00.
Also Ran: Point Lonsdale (Ire), Royal Rhyme (Ire), Dubai Honour (Ire), My Prospero (Ire), Bay Bridge (GB). Scratched: Mostahdaf (Ire).

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