A lengthy suspension for Frankie Dettori was inevitable from the moment it became clear that he accepted he had failed a drugs test in France back in September. It was widely suggested his ban would last for six months, and that was confirmed yesterday when France Galop released a statement referring to “a serious breach of the rules regarding prohibited substances.”
Whilst neither France Galop nor Dettori himself have said precisely what substance was involved, neither have they done anything to deny that, as many reports have claimed, that it was cocaine. If that is correct, it won’t be his first brush with the law over drugs; the Metropolitan Police cautioned him in 1993 for possession of cocaine.
Dettori said that he had received a sympathetic hearing on Tuesday, and the effect of that became clear when the authorities backdated the start of the suspension to 20 November, the date on which French doctors declared him medically ineligible to ride. As a result, he’ll be able to resume riding on 20 May next year, just 12 days before the Derby.
That would be an early opportunity for Dettori to demonstrate he has maintained his hunger for big time racing, and several trainers yesterday hinted that their support for the jockey could go so far as to provide him with a ride in the Epsom Classic. Luca Cumani said, “I very much hope he can overcome this setback. It would be a shame if this affects his future because he is such a fantastic rider. I’m glad he can be around for the Derby and hope he gets a good ride.”
Marco Botti was one trainer offering Dettori the chance to ride work for him during his time out. It would give him the opportunity to assess the fitness of the jockey who partnered his horse Joshua Tree to win the Canadian International in October this year. He added, “We don’t have a stable jockey. Adam Kirby still rides for us and so does Martin Harley, and will continue to do so, but I think we’ll have rides for him when he comes back.”
The next critical date for Dettori is 20 April next year, a month before his ban runs out. France Galop said, “Given the grave nature of the breach of the rules of racing, the jockey is ordered to present himself before a doctor authorised by the medical commission as of 20 April 2013,” when he will be tested again for any indications of drugs.
Meanwhile, Dettori is left to look back on an error for which he has taken full personal responsibility, and through which he acknowledged had let down racing, his family and himself. All racing supporters will hope that long time friend John Gosden has it right when he said, “I am absolutely clear in my mind he will come back 100% and hungry. He is somewhat chastened at the moment but I know the man well and he will come back stronger than ever.”