Frankie Dettori would “love nothing better” than to ride a winner for the King and Queen at Royal Ascot.
Racing’s poster boy, in his last year in the saddle before retirement, will wear the famous purple and scarlet colours at least twice at the five-day meeting which starts on Tuesday.
And he hopes to raise the roof in front of the royal party, who are expected to attend each day.
“It was an honour to ride for the (late) Queen. I always wore those silks with pride and nothing has changed,” said Dettori.
“I am excited to ride for King Charles and Queen Camilla. I would love nothing better than to ride a winner for them next week. A royal winner would raise the roof. It would be fantastic and I’m obviously really looking forward to the meeting.”
One of the late Queen’s greatest loves was the thoroughbred and she took a keen interest in racing and breeding throughout her life.
She had 24 winners at Royal Ascot, the last of which came in 2020 when Tactical landed the Windsor Castle Stakes. Her first came just days after her coronation in 1953 with Choir Boy beating 20 rivals to land the Royal Hunt Cup.
Following her death in September, this will be the first Royal Ascot for the King and Queen, with the potential for eight runners in the 35 races.
John Warren, the King and Queen’s racing and bloodstock adviser, says the excitement is building in royal circles.
“We are hopeful the King and Queen will race through the week and they will be very much following their runners. They are really very much looking forward to a wonderful week’s racing, which is tremendous,” Warren told the PA news agency.
“Everyone is excited by their participation and the fact they are really engaged and looking forward to it.
“The King understands the bigger picture. He is more than interested in racing. It is something he’d heard in osmosis all his life.
“What with the Queen’s enthusiasm, racing is lucky to have two great advocates, people who are engaged in the sport we all love.”
Dettori will ride royal runners Saga and Reach For the Moon, who are trained by John Gosden in partnership with son, Thady.
At last year’s meeting, Saga ran a cracker under Dettori in the Britannia Stakes, finishing a head second to Thesis.
The son of Invincible Spirit is again among the main hopes for the royals, having opened his four-year-old campaign with a head defeat to King Of Conquest over nine furlongs at Newmarket.
Warren said: “On day one, we have Saga in the Wolferton Stakes.
“It was a nice run last time at Newmarket. It will be interesting. We don’t have too many fears about him staying a little bit further, so we feel the mile and two (furlongs) should be fine for him.
“The Royal Hunt Cup was a back-up as we didn’t know he would get into the Wolferton, as there are only 16 who can get in, so you have to give yourself a second string to the bow.
“He ran jolly well last year, so he is a capable horse.”
Dettori will also partner Reach For The Moon, who was expected to land the Hampton Court at the meeting last year, only for the 2-5 favourite to be downed by Claymore. He was also second at Royal Ascot in 2021, to Point Lonsdale in the Chesham.
After being gelded over the winter, the one-time Derby hope was last of seven on his seasonal bow in the Earl of Sefton Stakes at Newmarket.
He drops back to a mile for the Royal Hunt Cup on Wednesday.
“He will take his chance,” said Warren. “He has been rusty in a way and we just haven’t quite got him where the trainer wants to have him, but is on very good form now, so we are hopeful.
“Probably a mile is the right trip for him. A big field might help him, cover him up and be kidded along a little bit, and hopefully he’ll just get into his rhythm and then use his ability when it matters. Frankie will ride both.”