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.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Powdered colors are displayed for sale at a market ahead of the Holi festival in Bhopal, India
techHere's what you need to know about the riotous occasion
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
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
and  

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

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Assistant / Credit Controller

£16000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are an award-winning digit...

Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform Engineer - VMware / SAN / Tier3 DC

£45000 - £55000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior VMware Platform En...

Recruitment Genius: Purchasing Assistant

£10000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Ledger Assistant

£17000 - £19000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A distributor of specialist ele...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable