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Too Darn Hot aims to recover best in St James’s Palace Stakes

16 Jun 2019

Frankie Dettori hopeful that last season's champion two-year-old can recapture his best.

Dettori will be reunited with Too Darn Hot at Royal Ascot on Tuesday. Picture:

Frankie Dettori is hoping Too Darn Hot, the champion two-year-old of last season, can recapture his best form and provide him with a fourth success in the St James’s Palace Stakes.

The £500,000 contest forms part of the Mile category of the QIPCO British Champion and Dettori has previously guided Starborough (1997), Galileo Gold (2016) and Without Parole (2018) to glory in it. The 48-year-old has ridden 60 winners at the Royal Meeting – more than any other current jockey in the weighing-room – and says the magic never wears off.

He said: “This is my 32nd Royal Ascot and, when you think about it, that was before most of the other lads in the weighing-room were even born!

It’s pretty amazing, I think my first ride there was for Clive Brittain in the Hunt Cup and here we are 32 years later, I’m still doing it.

“The importance [of the meeting] feeds down to everyone. It’s the reason why we get up early in the mornings – we try and find those horses who compete at Ascot. You never lose that buzz. It’s five days of tremendous races and for atmosphere and quality of racing it’s second to none.

“Sixty winners is an amazing tally – behind only Pat [Eddery} and Lester [Piggott]. What a great place to be lucky. Thank God it wasn’t Folkestone! May it long continue.”

Dettori spoke about Too Darn Hot when Ascot and World Horse Racing staged their annual International Challengers Press Morning last Thursday. He said: “Too Darn Hot has had a very unfortunate time [this year]. I just feel like I haven’t got him where I wanted him to be. Hopefully at Ascot on Tuesday, you see the old Too Darn Hot. I feel he has got more to give and you haven’t seen the real him yet this season.”

Too Darn Hot, who will be joined in the line-up by stablemate King Of Comedy, carried all before him as a juvenile and his official end-of-season rating was the same as that achieved by Frankel. However, he has been beaten in both his races this term – including last time when a three-length runner-up to the Charlie Hills-trained Phoenix Of Spain in the Tattersalls Irish 2000 Guineas at the Curragh.

Skardu finished fourth in that Irish Classic, having previously been first home down the centre of the track when third in the QIPCO 2000 Guineas at Newmarket.

William Haggas, the trainer of Skardu, said: “He was a little disappointing in the Irish Guineas but I think he was ridden too prominently. You learn with these horses and it was only his fourth race. I think we will wait a bit this time as he has a good turn of foot. He’s entitled to be there and is ready to roll but whether he’s good enough, we will find out on Tuesday.”

Aidan O’Brien seeks an eighth success in the race with Circus Maximus, who has been supplemented, his principal hope. Sixth in the Investec Derby, he drops back in distance and will be joined by Van Beethoven and The Irish Rover.

Godolphin’s hopes of a fourth win in the race rest with Royal Marine, winner of the Group 1 Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardere last year.

Shaman, runner-up to Persian King in the The Emirates Poule d’Essai des Poulains at ParisLongchamp last month, attempts to become the first French-trained winner since Sendawar in 1999, while front-running Fox Championhas been given the green light to try and follow up his all-the-way win in the German 2000 Guineas. Bell Rock completes the 11-runner line-up.