‘Pipe opener’ sees Dettori land two winners on return to saddle

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FRANKIE Dettori described winning on his comeback ride from a broken ankle as a “fairytale” as he gears up for what promises to be another momentous year.

Back months ahead of the initial prognosis from the accident at Nottingham on October 2 which ruled him out of the winning Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe ride on Treve, Dettori’s talent appeared undiminished as he galvanised Eco Warrior home from the front at Lingfield. The 43-year-old then completed a high-profile double aboard Gone With The Wind.

“I’m knackered,” he said. “It’s silly, but I was nervous this morning. As much as I would be riding in a big race. You’re hoping your legs hold up, and your fitness.

“I’m probably back about a week or 10 days before I’d planned but some good horses are coming up now so I had to speed up my routine.

“I’ve got a mechanical horse and I’ve got no pain, it’s just trying to get my strength back and there’s nothing like race-riding.

“Thank you to my surgeon, Mr Robinson, for screwing me back together and to everyone for putting up with me for the last three months. Originally they said six to nine months but I’m back in three-and-a-half. That was a big pipe opener and I’ll keep busy, it’s the mental awareness of racing, that’s what you have to sharpen up.”

As well as his ankle issue, Dettori famously served a six-month ban for being found guilty of taking a prohibited substance last year.

Understandably he is pleased to be leaving that behind and now has a fabulous range of horses to ride, including Treve, in his role as retained jockey to the vastly wealthy Qatari Sheikh Joaan Al Thani.

He jetted off to Dubai last night in order to link up with the owner’s Mshawish at Meydan.

Doncaster’s running order on Saturday has been re-arranged to accommodate the Willie Mullins runner Annie Power and her jockey Ruby Walsh.

By bringing the OLBG.com Doncaster Mares’ Hurdle forward by 35 minutes to 2.05pm, it gives Walsh the chance to ride on Town Moor – and then fly to Cheltenham to ride Boston Bob 90 minutes later in the galliardhomes.com Cleeve Hurdle against his old partner Big Buck’s.

“We’ve swapped the race times around with the Albert Bartlett as there’s a better chance of her turning up,” said Lucy Rhodes, Doncaster’s media and communications executive. “Ticket sales have been gathering momentum since she received an entry. It’s very exciting.”

Annie Power is a leading contender for both the Stan James Champion Hurdle and Ladbrokes World Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.

Donald McCain’s resurgence continued with a treble at Catterick yesterday courtesy of The Last Samuri, Ubaltique and Cloudy Joker. All three were ridden by Jason Maguire.

Jonjo O’Neill’s Holywell, the Pertemps winner at last year’s Cheltenham Festival, finally won a steeplechase at the fourth attempt under AP McCoy. It was a frustrating day, however, for Sue Smith and Ryan Mania – Hit The Top and Bennys Well were both second.

Sprinter Sacre took a big step forward in his recovery yesterday when coming through a piece of exercise at trainer Nicky Henderson’s yard with flying colours.