Author: David Archer
Published: 13:03 20/11/2012
2012 has been a grim old year for popular Italian jockey Frankie Dettori. After a stellar career spanning almost three decades, the 41-year-old has left the employment of Sheikh Mohammed ‘s Godolphin operation after his 18 year tenure as principal jockey was threatened by the arrival of Mickael Barzalona. Then, to compound the misery, he failed a drugs test at Longchamp on 16 September, resulting in an enquiry by the Medical Committee of France Galop which convenes today. The failed test, thought to have been the result of a tip-off to the French authorities, has left Dettori devastated by the prospect of impending ruin if a lengthy ban is imposed.
Detorri has enjoyed a fantastic career, winning over 500 group races and being three-times champion jockey. At Ascot in 1996, he became a legend after winning all seven races in a row. The jockey with the flying dismount has had similar success as a major TV celebrity, having captained on the BBC’s Question of Sport. He shares business ventures with chef Marco Pierre White and achieved an MBE in 2000. This record of success is now threatened by what sources have called “a moment of madness rather than a genuine addiction”.
It is thought that the drug involved is cocaine or a cocaine derivative. Detorri received a caution for possession of cocaine in 1993 and, if the case against him is proven this week, he is likely to face a significant ban from racing just at the time when he needs to re-establish his career, this time as a freelance jockey. Bookmaker Coral has now removed Dettori from its 2013 champion jockey betting, with spokesman David Stevens saying “If, as reports suggest, Frankie Dettori has failed a test involving cocaine, a six-month suspension is likely, and such a ban would rule him out of a title bid next year”.
Certainly, under reciprocal arrangements between international racing authorities, any ban imposed in France would similarly apply internationally. Dettori’s solicitor, Christopher Steward-Moore, has said in a statement that “In compliance with, and out of respect for, the regulations of France Galop he will not be commenting further until the France Galop procedures have been completed”. France Galop itself has made no comment on proceedings prior to the hearing.
Frankie Dettori remains enormously popular with the racing fraternity and the general public, and if a ban is imposed Dettori is sure to make a comeback thereafter. Dettori remains a big-race jockey with charisma and immense talent; don’t write his racing obituary yet.