Racing: Dettori prepares for record pursuit: The champion-jockey elect is within sight of a barrier which many believed would never be breached. Sue Montgomery reports

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The Independent Online
CHAMPION-elect Frankie Dettori is today poised to become only the sixth jockey in history to ride 200 winners in a British season. A double at York yesterday took the exuberant young Italian to 197 and with a full book of six rides at the same course this afternoon he has a live chance of reaching the double century by close of play.

One of the features of Dettori's prodigious season has been the sheer number of horses he has ridden. When he throws his leg over Golden Envoy in the opener it will be the 1,052nd time in this country this year and he should pass Michael Roberts's record of 1,068 rides at Hamilton on Monday.

With those two landmarks out of the way, the next on the horizon is the big one: Gordon Richards's record score of 269 winners, set in 1947. Dettori, who has averaged 25 winners a month since the start of the year, has until the end of November, when he leaves for Hong Kong, to achieve the target.

He acknowledges the difficulty of the task, but will undoubtedly get closer to Richards's total than anyone else bar the great man himself, who topped 250 winners on two of the nine other occasions on which he reached the double ton. But his is a record which Dettori would have mixed feelings about breaking. Matty Cowing, his agent, said yesterday: 'Of course he wouldn't mind doing it. But deep down he feels that it was such a marvellous feat, without night racing, all-weather tracks or planes, that the record should remain unbroken, out of respect for Gordon Richards.'

The others to have ridden 200- plus winners in a season have been Fred Archer (seven times), Tommy Loates and, in the modern era, Pat Eddery (209 in 1990) and Roberts (206 two years ago). Cowing reckons on 30 rides a week for his man until the end of the season. He added: 'We're conscious of the record and will have a go. But the horses will start tailing off a bit soon, so it does look difficult. Frankie will be knackered by the end, but he does love the game.'

A jockey with gloomier prospects yesterday was David McCabe, hit by Jockey Club stewards with a massive three-week ban (Sept 2-23) for intentional interference on Ozzie Jones to Richard Quinn's mount Bardolph in the Phil Bull Trophy at Pontefract last week. The disciplinary committee came down heavily on the 21-year-old apprentice because it was his third riding offence of the season, but Mike Chapman, who trains Ozzie Jones and was at the hearing, was incensed by the verdict. He said: 'McCabe went to win his race and caught Quinn napping, and he had to barge out and caused the interference. And because McCabe wouldn't let the senior jockey out, he's been penalised.'

On the Classic front two St Leger candidates came out of their work yesterday with credit. Sacrament was cut to 4-1 third favourite to complete Michael Stoute's hand of Classics after an impressive gallop at Newmarket. Mark Johnston's Double Trigger remains an 8-1 shot after a spin with Quick Ransom at Middleham. 'He worked well,' Johnston said. 'He couldn't get past Quick Ransom, but then, neither can Mister Baileys.'

(Photograph omitted)

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