Frankie Dettori set to miss Epsom after further French delay

Mystery surrounds non-return of Italian's licence as time ticks away ahead of Derby

The mystifying impasse that has delayed the return of Frankie Dettori was agonisingly prolonged today, leaving his hopes of a comeback in time for the Investec Derby on Saturday hanging by a horsehair. Renewed talks with the French regulators could not secure the return of his licence, but it remains conceivable that he could satisfy their outstanding criteria by the weekend. Whether he can do so in time to ride at Epsom seems doubtful, but the situation is so consistent with his trademark theatricality that it is hard to rule anything out. Certainly Dettori's team is optimistic that matters will be resolved imminently, if not in time for a fairytale comeback in the Derby.

The British Horseracing Authority has promised to compensate Dettori for the dilatory approach of their counterparts over the Channel, undertaking to expedite their own procedures as and when France Galop confirm that Dettori has gained the green light. For now that goodwill, like his licence, remains suspended. The BHA confined themselves last night to a brief statement, saying: "We have been in contact with France Galop, who have informed us that they are not in a position to provide any further information at present."

But it remains feasible for some dispensation to be made available to Dettori, should the French indicate that he will be authorised to ride in their own jurisdiction before the weekend. Declarations for Derby day are made at 10 am tomorrow.

Originally scheduled to end his six-month drugs ban at Leicester nine days ago, Dettori was left in limbo by an unspecified "glitch" in one of a series of tests he underwent for the French authorities. It had been their testing officials who discovered traces of cocaine in a random sample, taken at Longchamp last September, and their licensing body that subsequently banned him. Reciprocal arrangements oblige the BHA to delay the return of Dettori's British licence until he had been cleared in Paris.

The problems experienced by his team there have remained impenetrable throughout, thanks to the scrupulous confidentiality of the French authorities. Ultimately Dettori's lawyers conceded that there was an issue with one of his tests, and sent him back to Paris last week to provide a further series of samples. His lawyer duly met with officials there – but whereas it had been assumed that the medical commission of France Galop would formally convene to discuss the results, Christopher Stewart-Moore emerged to describe it merely as "a private discussion".

It is understood that the first two tests to be analysed have duly proved negative, and that the remaining two – or three, according to other sources – are expected to be processed tomorrow. Herve Naggar, Dettori's French agent, claimed last night that "the medical committee accepted the explanation of the mishap with his earlier test." As a result, it was hoped "that by the end of the week Frankie will be allowed to ride in France… subject to getting the results of his final tests and them coming back all clear."

As it is, Aidan O'Brien is not certain to run more than half the six colts he has left in the race, so there may only be a couple of vacancies after his son, Joseph, has made his choice. It would have been out of character for O'Brien – or his patrons at Coolmore – to fast-track Dettori past those Ballydoyle stalwarts, Colm O'Donoghue and Seamus Heffernan, never mind Ryan Moore, who has an established link with the yard and is available following the defection of Telescope.

O'Brien and his employers do recognise the stakes embraced by Dettori after 18 years in the service of their longstanding adversary, Sheikh Mohammed. But they were concerned that Epsom is hardly the place to ride "cold", and may well have preferred to wait until Royal Ascot. Last night that nettle seemed to have been moved beyond their grasp.

News
people
News
John Rees-Evans is standing for Ukip in Cardiff South and Penarth
news
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
Life and Style
Approaching sale shopping in a smart way means that you’ll get the most out of your money
life + styleSales shopping tips and tricks from the experts
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Elton John and David Furnish exchange marriage vows
peopleSinger posts pictures of nuptials throughout the day
News
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
Sport
David Silva, Andy Carroll, Arsene Wenger and Radamel Falcao
football
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

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£20000 - £21000 per annum: The Jenrick Group: This high quality manufacturer o...

The Jenrick Group: Electrical Maintenance Engineer

£30000 - £35000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: Electrical ...

Recruitment Genius: Photo Booth Host

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This company offers London's best photo booth ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service Engineers



£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Service Engineers ...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'