Dettori wired up for rapid return

Richard Edmondson reports on the champion jockey's early reappearance
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The Independent Online
Showtime is back. Lanfranco Dettori, jack-in-the-box flying dismounts and all, will return to the ring at Newmarket tomorrow. The champion jockey's penchant for acrobatics should not be that shocking considering his mother was a circus performer. What has been arresting this high summer though was racing without its most charismatic, and arguably most talented, figure.

Dettori (well, Frankie to just about everyone) has had the less sweaty role of racecourse pundit since a mid-June day at Newbury. That was when Shawanni got no further than the paddock in the Ballymacoll Stud Stakes, exaggerating the manoeuvre Silver used to perform when the Lone Ranger was in the saddle and depositing the champion jockey on the tarmac oval of the parade ring. The 25-year-old rider broke his elbow.

The repair work was conducted by Dr Richard Dodds, a Reading surgeon, who pinned the fracture and, with great allegiance to the configuration of Windsor racecourse, where his patient will compete on Monday, inserted wire in the shape of a figure of eight. Dodds anticipated that Dettori would be hors de combat until the beginning of September, but this opinion did not consider the Italian's recuperative powers and he now returns so early that it seems ET's index finger has played a part.

Dettori rode out all last week, including sessions for Lady Herries at the Glorious Goodwood meeting, and on Tuesday he was reunited with an old friend when he partnered Classic Cliche, on whom he captured last year's St Leger, in a piece of work on the Racecourse Side's watered gallop at Newmarket.

The King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes runner-up is likely to resume competition in the Geoffrey Freer Stakes at Newbury a week on Saturday. Other neon-rimmed rides Dettori can look forward to include Halling, who is pencilled in to tackle the Sussex Stakes victor, First Island, in the International Stakes at York later this month.

Before then is the relative mundanity of Newmarket tomorrow, when he will ride the unraced juvenile Conon Falls and, if the ground softens, Inquisitor. Both are prepared by John Gosden, who rather enjoys the idea of Frankie returning to help the cause. "The original operation went well," the trainer said yesterday. "Dr Dodds did a good job and Frankie has worked very hard to come back.

"He was initially hoping to be back for 1 September and then set his sights on York, but, in order to be ready for that meeting, he needs a few rides under his belt. I'm pleased he will be in action on Friday because it makes a great difference to the stable, but both my runners will need the run.''

Matty Cowing, Dettori's agent, reported yesterday that his client will return to his Newmarket home course on Saturday for two further Stanley House horses, Literary in the Listed Sweet Solera Stakes and La Mafarr in a maiden, while he also teams up with Godolphin's Kassbaan in the New Zealand Handicap.

Dettori returns on 52 winners, and as Pat Eddery is into the 120s and Richard Quinn is also over the century his championship has gone in all but name. He has come to accept this and Cowing assures us that Frankie is just glad to be back. "All sportsmen want to do what they do best," he said yesterday. "Even if they lived with Miss World they would want to get back to their sport.''

At Windsor on Monday Dettori will join another jockey who has been a long-term absentee from the weighing room. Walter Swinburn, who sustained serious injuries to his head, shoulders and ribs in a fall at Hong Kong in February, will return to action in Britain at the Thames-side course. Swinburn may return to the saddle before then in either Ireland or France on Sunday, though, given the length of his time away, Chris Dwyer's Talathath is likely to represent his first ride back.

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