Frankie Dettori's halo remained more or less intact yesterday as he was cleared of any major breach of racing's Rule 158 – one of those covering so-called non-triers – at a hearing at the Jockey Club's London headquarters. Along with the trainer Ed Dunlop, the Italian, who has a Gary Lineker-like record as far as breaches of discipline are concerned, was called before the beaks to explain the running and riding of Lobos in a 10-furlong Newmarket maiden in June.
The Swiss-bred three-year-old, who started fourth market choice behind the three co-favourites who occupied the first three places, came in 11th of the 16 runners, eight lengths behind the 10th horse, after virtually bolting to the start. Nothing untoward was reported by the Newmarket stewards at the time but under the Jockey Club's race-monitoring system, the disciplinary committee came to the conclusion that the video evidence disclosed a lack of effort on the rider's part that needed an explanation.
After a two-and-a-half hour hearing, Dettori satisfied his inquisitors that there was no sinister intention; rather, it was a case of the race not going to plan as Lobos not only went freely to post but then broke from the stalls too enthusiastically (he was in front after a furlong and led until the final quarter-mile), not allowing his jockey to find cover.
However, while the committee members found Dettori, who was legally represented yesterday, not guilty of failing to take "all reasonable and permissible measures" to secure the best placing, they found he had prematurely eased the gelding before the line and cautioned him as to his future conduct in races.
Compared to the 14-day ban which could have been invoked for a guilty verdict, that is a mere wrist-slap and Dettori emerged from the inquiry in good spirits. "I got off the non-triers' charge and obviously that is good news," he said.
"I was cautioned for slowing my horse down and not riding him out for 10th place but I am pleased my name has been cleared. They accepted the circumstances of the race and it's nice to leave this place without my name being tarnished. Now I just want to move forward."
The only previous occasion on which Dettori, 32, had fallen foul of the non-triers rules was as a young apprentice in 1988, when he and the trainer Luca Cumani were each fined £200 over the running and riding of Allez Au Bon at Yarmouth.
Lobos was found to be lame the day following the race – although that was not mentioned by Dettori in any sort of mitigation – and has not run since. Dunlop, too, was cleared of any wrongdoing over the running at Newmarket but was fined £240 for a breach of the "reports of performance" instruction, having failed to tell the stewards of his charge's physical mishap.
Dettori may not be a villain, but he has his eyes on York's old hanging fields, the Knavesmire, and next week's three-day festival, notably his rides on Noverre in Tuesday's Juddmonte International and Kazzia in Wednesday's Yorkshire Oaks.
Noverre was one of 12 left at yesterday's five-day stage in the meeting's first Group One contest, which is likely to feature the heavyweight clash between old rivals Golan (trained by Sir Michael Stoute) and Nayef (Marcus Tregoning), first and second in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes last month. And Golan, who runs in the colours of the late Lord Weinstock but is part-owned by his future home, Coolmore Stud, is likely to have the assistance of a pacemaker from virus-plagued Ballydoyle.
Three of Aidan O'Brien's lesser lights, Starbourne, Twentytwoandchange and Shoal Creek, remain in the race. "One of the trio is a possible," said their trainer, "We'll just monitor them and see if any of them are healthy and well."
Godolphin have three other possibles, Grandera, Best Of The Bests and the pacemaker Sydenham. Chancellor and Indian Creek and Golan's Maktoum-owned stablemate No Excuse Needed, complete the line-up at this stage.