Racing figures confident Dettori still has what it takes

Despite his split with John Gosden, Frankie Dettori will have no problem finding support, according to trainers Hugo Palmer and Roger Varian – with Aidan O’Brien also voicing his admiration for the rider.

The ever-popular Italian provided the perfect riposte to critics who have doubted his ability in recent weeks with a peach of a ride on his only mount of the day at Newmarket, booting Lezoo to success in the Listed Maureen Brittain Memorial Empress Fillies’ Stakes.

Following a few high-profile defeats at Epsom and Royal Ascot, Gosden and Dettori indefinitely paused the long-standing partnership with a brief statement on Friday.

Though the Clarehaven Stables handler, who shares a licence with son Thady, stated the duo were “taking a sabbatical”, Dettori will now plough his own furrow.

Frankie Dettori and Aidan O'Brien with Snowfall's connections at Epsom
Frankie Dettori and Aidan O’Brien with Snowfall’s connections at Epsom (John Walton/PA)

O’Brien has turned to Dettori in recent years when fielding multiple contenders in big races, with the rider picking up some handy spares after retained jockey Ryan Moore has made his selection.

The relationship has yielded high-profile success, with Dettori partnering St Mark’s Basilica to win the Dewhurst in 2020 while the duo enjoyed double Classic success last year via Mother Earth in the 1000 Guineas and Snowfall in the Oaks.

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O’Brien said: “He’s a great rider, always was and still is. Anytime we ever could get him, we were privileged to have him.

“When Frankie is available, we always feel privileged that he rides for us.”

Hugo Palmer and Frankie Dettori won the 2000 Guineas with Galileo Gold
Hugo Palmer and Frankie Dettori won the 2000 Guineas with Galileo Gold (Julian Herbert/PA)

Palmer, who was in attendance at Newmarket to saddle Ever Given in the Group Three Criterion Stakes, feels the 51-year-old rider will not lack for rides, despite taking just 88 mounts in Britain in 2022, with all but 15 for Gosden’s team.

Palmer, who teamed up with Dettori in 2016 to win both the 2000 Guineas and St James’s Palace Stakes with Galileo Gold, said: “I have already offered him a ride, but he is going to be in America.

“He is not just a great jockey – Frankie is the only jockey alive today who can claim to be the greatest of all time. (Lester) Piggott is dead, (Fred) Archer is dead, (Sir Gordon) Richards is dead. None of the rest of them – look at Frankie’s Group One record compared to any other rider alive. It is extraordinary.

“Frankie picks and chooses his rides. While James Doyle is my number one pick, so it would be in the absence of James, but 100 per cent, we will support him if we had the right horse and he was available.

“We might possibly, depending on the weather, supplement two for the July Cup in two weeks’ time, and I asked Frankie this morning if he’d be free, but he said he would be in America.

“Frankie has a lot of big days ahead of him. The two biggest days of my career – the 2000 Guineas and the St James’s Palace Stakes – were in Frankie’s hands, so we are eternally grateful to him for that and we’d like to win a third one for him!”

Roger Varian has no doubt Frankie Dettori will have plenty of support
Roger Varian has no doubt Frankie Dettori will have plenty of support (Simon Marper/PA)

Newmarket handler Varian is also adamant Dettori will remain a popular choice if the right horse became available.

“We have got a strong team of jockeys, so there are not many spare rides from the stable, but he has ridden big winners for us in the past and I’m sure he will, at some point, ride for us again,” said Varian.

“We like Frankie and we are fans of him, but we have six jockeys in the team to look after. He rode us our first Group One winner a few years ago (Nahrain in the 2011 Prix de l’Opera), so we are big fans of his.”

Fellow jockeys Tom Marquand and Robert Havlin were also quick to back racing’s superstar.

Dettori's last big winner for the Gosden team came on Inspiral at Royal Ascot last week
Dettori’s last big winner for the Gosden team came on Inspiral at Royal Ascot last week (David Davies/PA)

Marquand said: “He’s a legend of our sport and competed at the highest level for many, many years.

“It is what it is. He’s incredible for our sport and there’s a reason he’s been at the top for so long.

“Partnerships are partnerships, whether it be within sport or marriages or anything, there’s going to be disputes, I suppose.

“Hopefully everything resolves itself and everything turns out for the best for everyone.”

Havlin, who rides for the Gosden team, added: “It was wonderful to see him win today and we were all delighted for him, as I am sure John (Gosden) was. They go back a long way.

“Frankie is a legend and he’s got big days in him yet. Sometimes things don’t work out and perhaps it is the best thing for both parties, but I’m sure he has plenty of big winners left.”

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