Dettori hurries to a Glorious comeback

The physical pain and bruising inflicted by the plane crash in which his pilot died have now started to fade, but Frankie Dettori may feel a fresh set of aches when he wakes up in Newmarket today. For the first time in almost eight weeks, Dettori rode work yesterday morning, and he said afterwards that he may return to race-riding within 10 days, three weeks earlier than anyone had anticipated.

The physical pain and bruising inflicted by the plane crash in which his pilot died have now started to fade, but Frankie Dettori may feel a fresh set of aches when he wakes up in Newmarket today. For the first time in almost eight weeks, Dettori rode work yesterday morning, and he said afterwards that he may return to race-riding within 10 days, three weeks earlier than anyone had anticipated.

Dettori suffered a broken ankle in the crash on 1 June which killed Patrick Mackey, and in which Ray Cochrane, the third person on the flight, sustained burns and bruising. Cochrane returned to the track last Friday, when he rode Glowing to victory at Newmarket, but Dettori had previously been thought unlikely to partner a horse in public until the Ebor meeting at York, which opens on 22 August.

After riding work for Godolphin, his principal retainer, yesterday, however, the former champion said that he could be back in the saddle competitively in a little as 10 days, a time-span which includes at least part of the five-day Glorious Goodwood meeting, which begins a week today.

"It'll be a lot better tomorrow,'' Dettori said afterwards. "I felt like a fish out of water, everything was not quite right. It's like when you get back in a car and you don't know where everything is, but it's like that when I come back from holiday. It's the start of my comeback. I'm going to be very sore tomorrow, my muscles are going to ache.''

When asked when he might return to race-riding, Dettori answered: "I would say in around 10 days I could be looking at having my first ride.'' Nor will it have escaped his notice that Godolphin's Dubai Millennium, a brilliant winner at the Royal meeting, is among the entries for the Group One Sussex Stakes at Goodwood next Wednesday, although he has yet to be confirmed as a definite runner.

In Dettori's absence, Godolphin has turned to jockeys including Jerry Bailey and John Velazquez, two of the leading riders in the United States, but they announced yesterday that they will look no further than John Reid to partner Kayf Tara, the Ascot Gold Cup winner, in the King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at the same course on Saturday.

Eleven horses were left in the King George after yesterday's five-day declaration stage, headed by Montjeu, the winner of two Derbys and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe last season. John Hammond's colt had been removed from Coral's ante-post betting over the weekend, as hot weather appeared to be turning the ground against him. Ascot decided to start watering yesterday, though, and Montjeu was duly re-introduced to Coral's list at the prohibitive odds of 8-11.

Few punters will want to back Montjeu at that sort of price until they can see for themselves that he has made it to the starting stalls, and the betting is further complicated by doubts over the participation of Fruits Of Love. Mark Johnston's entry, who has won the last two runnings of the Hardwicke Stakes over the King George's 12-furlong trip, knocked himself while swimming on Saturday, and will not be able to work at full pace until tomorrow at the earliest.

"It is a little bit better today,'' Johnston said yesterday, "But that is not to say it is anything other than a fairly serious setback. We will keep trying but all we can do to reduce the swelling and pain is to use ice and cold water. My guess is we will get the swelling down but you can never tell how he will react until he comes under pressure.'' Johnston hopes to decide on Thursday whether Fruits Of Love will take his chance.

One certain runner, however, is Air Shakur, from Japan. Air Shakur, who is trained by Hideyuki Mori, is currently stabled at Geoff Wragg's yard in Newmarket, and will work with some of Clive Brittain's string tomorrow.

"Air Shakur has improved since coming to Newmarket and will have a good chance at Ascot,'' Masfumi Matsuda, Mori's assistant, said yesterday. "He has done plenty of work and will have his final gallop on Wednesday, nothing too severe, just enough to keep him fresh. He likes fast ground and Yutaka Take will ride on Saturday.''

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