Frankie Dettori can prove doubters wrong, if he gets right rides


All his tests were negative, all the thinking should now be positive. That was Frankie Dettori's message to the press and media, when finally making his comeback at Epsom last Friday – delivered, it must be said, with an unfamiliar air of insecurity. In many cases, his plea seems to have fallen on deaf ears.

An unseemly relish, in fact, is infecting the consensus over Dettori's prospects as he embarks on a freelance career at 42.

It has variously been argued that the opportunities simply aren't available, and that he won't have the graft and resilience to force new ones for himself. Flat jockeys, it turns out, are not tall until cast as poppies.

Yet many now predicting only toil and discouragement had previously grieved to see Dettori squander his prime on a stable that increasingly struggled to find mounts commensurate with his talent.

Since their golden early years together, Godolphin had arrested the fulfilment of the world's most accomplished jockey – and Sheikh Mohammed's promotion of Mickael Barzalona and Silvestre de Sousa only compounded that waste. Godolphin did not have the horses for one top jockey, never mind three.

Auspiciously for the test of character now awaiting, Dettori ultimately valued self-respect even more highly than the lavish salary he had banked for 18 years. The supervening humiliation of a six-month cocaine suspension has plainly raised the stakes, but you can't have it both ways.

The same people who pronounce Dettori lost without the sort of bedrock Ryan Moore enjoys with Sir Michael Stoute will, in the next breath, warn that he can never expect to beat Moore to serious "spares" from Ballydoyle. Yet Dettori was offered the mount on Camelot himself in the Arc last autumn – notoriously the final straw in his partnership with Godolphin – because Joseph O'Brien was unable to manage even 8st 11lbs, and Moore was committed to Stoute.

The fact is that there is plenty of room at the top. Just ask Graham Lee. Talented as he is, Lee must have been astounded that a jump jockey could prove such a prolific success, overnight, on the Flat.

We have a champion in his pomp, in Richard Hughes; and Moore's elite status was compellingly reiterated on Saturday. But Johnny Murtagh, increasingly preoccupied with training, is in the evening of his career; and Eddie Ahern's disastrous ban takes one of the few absolute naturals of their generation out of day-to-day competition. Retainers limit the availability of Jamie Spencer, William Buick and Paul Hanagan. And the bottom line is that none of these will keep Dettori from the front of any queue, regardless, once he is demonstrably back to his best.

In fairness, that will take time. Somehow race-riding makes demands of fitness that can never be met in the gym, but the critical sharpening will sooner concern his instincts, his decision-making in the heat of battle.

In Dettori's case, in particular, that introduces a chicken-and-egg quality to the situation. Though irresistible "in the zone", he can only get there by riding winners in the first place.

His agent, then, must really earn his corn now. Having pulled him from a burning plane, Ray Cochrane was formerly entitled to view his role in retirement as a comfortable sinecure, his employer being conveniently indifferent to the day-to-day grind. Cochrane has now got to prove that he can hustle, and hustle productively.

If he needs to send Dettori to an evening meeting at Catterick, to get him rolling, then so be it. They could not have parachuted on to the scene at a better time, after all, with the bloated summer programme stretching the professional community to all points of the compass, afternoon and evening.

You can rest assured that trainers and owners, once glimpsing the old Dettori, will gladly indulge any perceived damage to his reputation.

Through the delay in his relicensing, Epsom ultimately became a gnawing distraction. Even Royal Ascot, just a fortnight away, should be viewed only as a foothold. In the long run, however, a challenge of this kind might turn out to be just about the only way for Dettori to renew a vocation that had turned stale.

If he requires motivation, he need only recall the indignity of his later treatment at Godolphin. And if that doesn't work, then perhaps all this gleeful Schadenfreude will do the trick instead.

John Travolta is a qualified airline captain and employed the pilot with his company, Alto
people'That was the lowest I’d ever felt'
Life and Style
healthIt isn’t greasy. It doesn’t smell. And moreover, it costs nothing
Jonas Gutierrez (r) competes with Yaya Toure (l)

Newcastle winger is in Argentina having chemotherapy

Arts and Entertainment
Blossoming love: Colin Firth as Stanley and Emma Stone as Sophie, in 'Magic in the Moonlight'

Actors star in Woody Allen's 'Magic in the Moonlight'

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
peopleThe Times of India said actress should treat it as a 'compliment'

Watch this commuter wage a one-man war against the Circle Line
We are phenomenally good at recognising faces; the study showed that humans have been selected to be unique and easily recognisable

Human faces unique 'because we don't recognise each other by smell'

Arts and Entertainment
You've been framed: Henri Matisse's colourful cut-outs at Tate Modern
artWhat makes a smash-hit art show?
Home body: Badger stays safe indoors
lifeShould we feel guilty about keeping cats inside?
A male driver reverses his Vauxhall Astra from a tow truck

Man's attempt to avoid being impounded heavily criticised

Arts and Entertainment
US pop diva Jennifer Lopez sang “Happy Birthday” to Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow, president of Turkmenistan
musicCorporate gigs become key source of musicians' income
Arts and Entertainment
While many films were released, few managed to match the success of James Bond blockbuster 'Skyfall'
filmsDaniel Craig believed to be donning skis as 007 for first time
The Guildhall School of Music and Drama is to offer a BA degree in Performance and Creative Enterprise

Arts and Entertainment
Emma Thompson and Bryn Terfel are bringing Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street to the London Coliseum

Returning to the stage after 20 years makes actress feel 'nauseous'

Arts and Entertainment
Pulp-fiction lover: Jarvis Cocker
booksJarvis Cocker on Richard Brautigan
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke and Pharell Williams in the video of the song, which has been accused of justifying rape
music...and he had 'almost no part' in writing it
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Data Warehouse Developer / Analyst (SQL, SSIS, stored procedures)

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Manchester - Computer Futures

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Computer Futures (an SThree br...

Year 6 Teacher

£110 - £130 per day + D.O.E - Competitive Rates: Randstad Education Maidstone:...

March On Cancer™ - Local Marketing and Promotions Volunteer

This is an unpaid voluntary role.: Cancer Research UK: We need motivational vo...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week