'Stupid' Dettori pledges to bounce back after drug ban
Frankie Dettori has made a contrite public apology to racing and his family following France Galop's decision to punish him with a six-month worldwide ban for failing a drugs test in September.
At the same time, the jockey also spoke of his determination to rebuild his career from May next year.
Fully accepting France-Galop's findings after testing positive for a minimal trace of a prohibited substance, believed to be cocaine, in a routine drugs test at Longchamp on September 16, Dettori, who has been British Flat racing's poster boy for the past two decades, put his hands up and admitted his mistake.
"I have been stupid and would like to apologise to all those I have let down including my friends and the many supporters I have been lucky enough to have in racing, both fans and professionals," he said in a statement issued through his manager, Peter Burrell.
"In particular, I have let down my wife and children and it is for their sake that I am determined to rebuild my career and my reputation in the coming years."
Dettori (41), whose ban was backdated by the stewards of France Galop to the start of the ban their medical committee imposed on him in France on November 19, added: "I could try to make excuses, but this is not the way I want to handle this situation.
"I have been tested on many occasions all over the world and this occasion was no different from any other. From the start of this inquiry I have acknowledged that I take responsibility for my actions and I do not shrink from that position.
"Having been at the forefront of our wonderful sport, I have always done my best to promote and support it whenever I can. I will miss riding more than words can describe.
"I am now going to have some time with my family, pursue some other interests and then concentrate on my return in six months' time. I would like to thank everyone for their much appreciated messages of support in this difficult time and once again my apologies for this interruption."
Commenting on his client, Burrell said: "Frankie will put this behind him and use his six months off constructively. He has taken his family away on holiday and his intention is to have a good break for three months and then use the second three months to concentrate on his comeback and getting in the right frame of mind for it."
Dettori's relationship with racing has been intensely symbiotic since he first rose to prominence as champion apprentice in 1989, the same year that he became stable jockey to his early mentor, the successful Newmarket trainer Luca Cumani.
Racing is quick to forget private indiscretions and always takes the view that what counts most in a jockey is not any human frailty out of the saddle, but his talent in it.
Just look at the examples of the reformed Timmy Murphy, who served a prison sentence for an alcohol-related incident on a plane, and Kieren Fallon, who clawed his way back after a lengthy ban for failing a drugs tests as well as a very public corruption case, in which he was acquitted.
When Dettori returns on May 19 – after a medical examination by France Galop's doctors, which may include further drug testing – he will still be regarded as one of the world's best. He might not instantly get back on the top horses and may even find that seats on the first 10 in the betting have been taken in the Derby.
But in some ways, the freelance Dettori might be more attractive than the one sworn to Godolphin and always likely to be unavailable come the big race when he would invariably have to pull on the royal blue silks.
Provided he can demonstrate hunger for the sport, he will not lack for support.
Marco Botti, the up-and-coming young Italian trainer in Newmarket, who supplied Dettori's last Group One winner, Joshua Tree, in the Canadian International in October, said: "We all agree he's made a mistake, but it doesn't change how I feel about him as a jockey and when he comes back, I will be as keen to support him as I was before."
Peter Chapple-Hyam, who supplied Dettori's only Derby winner, Authorized, in 2007, is also keen to use him. "It's a shame," he said, "but I'd have no hesitation putting him up, even if it was his first ride on his first day back. No way does this change my view of him as a jockey." (© Daily Telegraph, London)