Saturday 21 October 2017

No fairytale Epsom return for Dettori

Jockey Frankie Dettori after finishing the Princess Elizabeth Stakes on Beatrice Aurore during The Investec Ladies Day : Andrew Matthews/PA Wire.
Jockey Frankie Dettori after finishing the Princess Elizabeth Stakes on Beatrice Aurore during The Investec Ladies Day : Andrew Matthews/PA Wire.

Frankie Dettori returned to something nearing normality for him when resuming his race-riding career after his six-month ban. There was no fairytale comeback for the popular jockey as two of his mounts finished last and the other fifth at Epsom.

A failure to trouble the judge did not bother him. He was just happy to blow the cobwebs away, get back into the swing of things and, as he put it, "leave the house this morning – less chores to do."

He was, he said, just glad to commence a new – albeit "scary" –chapter in his career as a freelance and he will now move on to Chantilly tomorrow looking for a first winner of this new era in their Derby.

There was, after the farce of the last fortnight when the French authorities refused to declare him fit to ride, one final twist, however. He got stuck in Epsom traffic and nearly missed his first ride back, only arriving half an hour before the race.

"I was coming by helicopter but it couldn't fly because of fog in the Newmarket area and I had to take the car," he explained. "I hopped out three furlongs down the course and ran but because I had no badge security stopped me. I leapt a rail and didn't care if they chased me. I'd been quite nervous in the car but running up the track took all my worries away."

The jockey, who said he still had a 'J-Lo' backside on him and needed to lose 2-3lbs, was pleased by the shape he was in.

"I was surprised how good my fitness was," he said. "Being a freelance is a new challenge, a good challenge.

"I'm most grateful to Sheikh Mohammed for his kindness and the opportunities he gave me, but I've now entered a new challenge. I'm afraid of the future a bit, but I'm positive about it and looking forward."

The jockey said that the first four months of his ban for cocaine was a novelty but it began to wear off by the time the racing world convened in his old winter stomping ground of Dubai for the World Cup in March.

"If you have something for 25 years you don't realise how much you miss it until it's taken away," he said.

"It's been a long six months. The first four I could eat, chill out and be with my family but the last two months have been a strain on the family seeing me eager to get back but not able to."

Dettori refused to go into details of the hitch that stopped France Galop declaring him fit to ride for an extra fortnight. "Everyone had to fight very hard to get my licence back," he said, "and it's a big relief."

Irish Independent

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