Dettori crosses over to land shock Camelot ride in the Arc


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The Independent Online

Having ruined his immaculate record at Doncaster last month, Godolphin yesterday offered connections of Camelot remarkable redress. Frankie Dettori, employed by Sheikh Mohammed's stable throughout its prolonged rivalry with Ballydoyle, will ride the Derby winner for John Magnier and his Coolmore partners in the Qatar Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in Paris on Sunday.

The mere confirmation of Camelot's participation, following a workout at Ballydoyle, represented precious succour for a race that had shed three key contenders since the weekend. But the nomination of his new jockey amply restored all the intrigue lost with Danedream, Nathaniel and Snow Fairy.

True, it was not wholly unexpected, despite the notorious froideur between the rival empires after Dettori won the 2005 St Leger for Aidan O'Brien, Coolmore's principal trainer, on Scorpion. To Magnier's candid bemusement, Dettori subsequently went so far as to express public contrition for a perceived affront to his boss. But Magnier is too smart a businessman to allow past differences to intrude on something as important as the renewal of Camelot's reputation, following his shock defeat by Godolphin's Encke in the St Leger. And, as noted yesterday, the sheikh himself surely feels obliged to afford Dettori greater latitude this time round – having dismayed the Italian by fast-tracking young Mickael Barzalona, hired last winter, to immediate parity at Godolphin.

Camelot has hitherto been ridden by O'Brien's son, Joseph, whose minimum weight is a couple of pounds over the 8st 11lb Camelot is set to carry. Ryan Moore has not ridden since breaking a wrist in August, but would be claimed for Sea Moon regardless; and Seamus Heffernan failed to make the most of his opportunity on So You Think last year. That reiterated the tactical challenge of a big field round the dizzy bends of Longchamp – where Dettori has always been especially masterful. Magnier decided it would be puerile to look elsewhere, when the world's top jockey was without a mount after riding in 24 consecutive Arcs.

"What an opportunity, and honour, to be asked to ride the Guineas and Derby winner in the Arc," Dettori said. "This year Godolphin never had a horse for the race, so I was standing by [for] Snow Fairy as I think Ryan was going to ride Sea Moon. But the last two to three days were pretty unbelievable: Snow Fairy had an injury, Joseph couldn't do the weight, and the ride became available. Let's hope the horse is in tip-top shape. It's been a pretty long season now but if the Camelot we know turns up he should have a very good chance."

That is the rub. Camelot has still had only six races in his life, and enjoyed a good break before the Leger. But he did have a hard race there, and will have had only 22 days to absorb it.

"He was ridden to stay," Dettori told the Racing UK channel. "It was a stop-start pace, though I still think the horse quickened well at the end. He looks tremendously well balanced. He came into his own in the Derby over a mile and a half. He spreadeagled the field and the Arc will be his absolute cup of tea."

Turf account

Chris McGrath's Nap

Tiradito (5.30 Southwell) Well treated now, and immediate signs of renewal for his new trainer at Wolverhampton last time. US genes meanwhile indicate he will relish this surface.

Next best

Galatian (6.40 Wolverhampton) Looked ready to exploit good mark at Kempton last out, set lots to do but finished fast.

One to watch

Aarti (William Haggas) Seemed equal to a modest rating when held up and third on her handicap debut last week at Wolverhampton.

Where the money's going

Camelot is 3-1 from 4s with Ladbrokes for Sunday's Arc.