Dettori to seek Smullen's advice for Derby mount
Frankie Dettori will be leaning on stricken colleague Pat Smullen for advice after picking up the ride aboard Dermot Weld's Epsom Derby hope Hazapour for next month's Classic in "unfortunate circumstances".
Smullen, who turned 41 on Tuesday, is taking an extended break from the saddle as he battles cancer and Dettori has been snapped up by Weld and owner the Aga Khan in his absence to ride the Derrinstown Derby Trial winner.
The flamboyant Italian pilot - already a dual Derby winner having steered Authorized (2007) and Golden Horn (2015) to success - is excited to partner the son of Shamardal and will seek Smullen's counsel before getting the leg up in the June 2 showpiece.
"I'm very excited, the only negative thing is the unfortunate circumstances of how I got the ride.
"My thoughts go out to Pat Smullen. I know Pat very well. He is a good friend of mine and we've been keeping in touch," Dettori said.
"I have spoken to him in the last few days and he is very positive about his treatment. I am sure he will give me a lot of good advice about riding Hazapour, which I hope to sit on one morning next week."
Pulling on the Aga Khan's famous green silks while also riding for the master of Rosewell House ticks two boxes off Dettori's racing bucket list with Hazapour - as low as 12/1 - set to become his 23rd Derby ride in one of the world's most famous races.
"The Aga Khan is steeped in Derby history and has so many good memories. I'm very excited to wear those famous colours. The colt won a good trial and Dermot Weld is a master trainer, who has also won the race before," Dettori said.
"The combination of Dermot Weld and the Aga Khan is amazing. I'm always delighted to ride a horse in the Derby, especially a horse with this kind of calibre."
The three-year-old - which is out of a half-sister to the Weld-trained, Smullen-ridden 2016 Derby winner Harzand - beat the Aidan O'Brien pair Delano Roosevelt and The Pentagon at Leopardstown on his seasonal reappearance under Declan McDonogh.
The Aga Khan will be attempting to win the Derby for a sixth time. Apart from Harzand - Weld's sole winner in the race - he has been successful with greats like Shergar, Shahrastani, Kahyasi and Sinndar.
It will be an especially important weekend for Dettori with rides on the likes of John Gosden's unbeaten filly Lah Ti Dar in the Oaks and stablemate Cracksman in the Coronation Cup, both of which are expected to go off short-priced favourites.
A decision about the participation of the only French contender, the Pascal Barry-trained Study of Man, is likely to be made this weekend while his owners, the Niarchos family, also have the O'Brien-trained Zabriskie entered.
Meanwhile, Gosden's Legends of War showed the first glimpse that his 900,000 guineas price tag at the Newmarket breeze-up sales was warranted when scoring effortlessly on debut at Yarmouth yesterday.
Having significantly hit the pockets of owners Qatar Racing Limited, the son of Scat Daddy paid a small slice of it back when taking a giant step towards an outing at Royal Ascot - Gosden indicated that the Coventry Stakes is his most likely destination - with an emphatic success in the 6f contest under Kerry jockey Oisin Murphy.
Elsewhere, tonight's Sandown card is packed full of quality as Michael Stoute bids for a ninth success in the Brigadier Gerard Stakes (8.10) with Ryan Moore aboard the likely favourite Poet's Word.
Taking a significant drop in grade after placing in three of his four Group One efforts - including when second in the Dubai Sheema Classic on his last run - the consistent five-year-old is already a Group Three winner and can break a 10-month spell without victory to reward punters.