Dettori set to learn cost of failed dope test
PARIS (AFP) –
Legendary jockey Frankie Dettori will on Tuesday learn his fate for failing a drugs test when French racing’s ruling body France Galop issue their verdict at a disciplinary hearing.
The England-based Italian — probably racing’s most well known personality — failed a dope test after riding in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe trials at Longchamp on September 16.
Through his lawyer, Christopher Stewart-Moore, the jockey admitted to testing positive for a non-performance enhancing product.
But both France Galop and Dettori’s legal team have steadfastly refused to identify the substance.
British media have reported that it was a recreational drug which could see him receive a six-month worldwide ban.
However, a more run-of-the-mill product, such as treatment for a common cold, would see him escape with a reprimand.
The feeling from racing insiders is that with the dossier having been handed on to the stewards by the medical commission, after they heard Dettori’s account a fortnight ago, is that he is facing a highly-damaging ban of several months.
It will be especially damaging for the exuberant Dettori because he recently had his lucrative contract with the Dubai-based Godolphin Operation terminated after 18 years of success for both parties.
The final straw for both sides came not with the dope test failure — though they may have already been aware of it — but when Dettori accepted the ride on Epsom and Irish Derby champion Camelot for Godolphin’s bitter rivals Coolmore Stud in October’s Arc.
It brought to a head the deterioration in the relationship between both Godolphin — the brainchild of Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin al-Maktoum — and the jockey.
Ironically it was a previous drugs offence that had seen him able to sign for Godolphin after a high-profile contract in Hong Kong fell through when he received a police caution in 1993 for possessing a small amount of cocaine.
A six-month ban for Dettori when he has become a freelance rider will be costly.
While it would see him back in the saddle by June 4, he will have missed all the main European Guineas classics (over a mile) as well as the blue riband Epsom Derby and the Oaks (both run over 1 1/2 miles).
Hopes too of being signed up by Coolmore as stable jockey, where present number one Joseph O’Brien, son of their trainer Aidan O’Brien, is fighting a losing battle with his weight, would also fall by the wayside.
Dettori would certainly not be finished — he only has to look at Kieren Fallon and his numerous comebacks after lengthy suspensions to take encouragement — but it would make it harder to get the top rides as by early June all the top horses will have their regular riders.
It is because of that factor that a well-placed source told AFP that Dettori will seek to have any ban backdated to the last time he rode, riding Cavalryman in the Melbourne Cup on November 6 which, if successful, would see him back in early May.
The problem, though, is that France Galop have never before backdated bans so Dettori, who turns 42 on December 15, faces a tough task to persuade them to break that habit.
Dettori has plenty of outside interests, including a restaurant chain, but with a liking for the good life and five children to educate he would sorely miss his main source of income for six months.
Racing has benefited enormously from the “Frankie factor” especially when he hit the headlines for the right reasons in 1996 when riding all seven winners on the card at Ascot.
He has won 14 British Classics, including the Epsom Derby on Authorized in 2007, and three Prix de l’Arc de Triomphes, on Lammtarra in 1995, Sakhee in 2001 and Marienbard the following season.