Friday 24 November 2017

Cornerstone flops in France for Dettori

JA McGrath

A posse of photographers snapped relentlessly at an anxious Frankie Dettori as he stood with Team Valor's Barry Irwin and associates prior to the Prix du Jockey-Club in the crowded paddock at Chantilly.

There was no escape for Dettori, who was on his second day back in the saddle following a six-month worldwide ban after testing positive for cocaine last September. Finally, after several tense minutes, the Italian was legged aboard First Cornerstone – a son of Hurricane Run – trained by Andy Oliver from Co Tyrone.

The colt, a 20/1 chance with British bookmakers but 27/1 on the PMU, had missed Epsom and been saved for the French Derby's more suitable trip of an extended 10 furlongs.

After breaking well, First Cornerstone raced in the second half of the field and despite Dettori riding him vigorously around the home bend and into the straight, he soon started to struggle. He finished 15th, beating only four home.

How was it for Dettori – it was his only mount of the day and his fourth since returning – especially as there had been such a fuss in front of the cameras? "Disappointing," was the jockey's one-word reply.

Most took that as a description of First Cornerstone's performance rather than the experience of being the subject of a media frenzy that will not abate until the jockey has ridden that eagerly awaited first winner on the comeback trail.

Yesterday's race was won by the favourite, Intello (23/10), trained by Andre Fabre. The colt had been in cracking form and came here off the back of a highly encouraging minor placing in the French 2,000 Guineas at Longchamp last month.

Intello was ridden by Olivier Peslier, one of Dettori's best friends in the weighing room. Intello, which shortened to 6/1 (from 10/1) for the Arc with Paddy Power, is a son of super-sire Galileo, which was making it a Derby double in the space of 24 hours, having also sired Ruler Of The World.

There was more Derby disappointment for Jim Bolger as Loch Garman finished 10th and the trainer felt his charge didn't run to form.

"He got a number of cuts, so I have to look after that and he will be off for a while," the Coolcullen handler revealed.

His rider Kevin Manning said: "He never travelled. It was disappointing. He just never gave me the same feel he usually gives me."

Sheikh Fahad Al Thani's Spirit Quartz (4/1) landed the Prix Gros-Chene but then had to survive a lengthy stewards' inquiry. The Robert Cowell-trained sprinter is now 12/1 for the King's Stand Stakes at Royal Ascot.

This was a much-deserved win for a sprinter who has gone close to winning on a number of occasions. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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