FRANKIE Dettori could attempt to become champion jockey for a fourth time as his riding arrangements remain in a state of flux – and the subject of fevered speculation – after he and Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation ended their 18-year association.
It was expected that the charismatic Italian would be confirmed this week as the retained rider to Sheikh Fahad’s expansionist empire, but his Pearl Racing and Qatar Bloodstock operations announced yesterday that Dettori was not in the frame for a high-profile role with them.
Jamie Spencer is now favourite for this role.
However, Marco Botti, a highly-ambitious Newmarket trainer of Italian descent, has indicated that he will use his countryman’s services wherever possible while it was also indicated that Dettori could attempt to become champion jockey for the first time since 2004, the year that he won the last of his three titles.
This is surprising – 41-year-old Dettori has struggled, for some time, to be motivated by the mundane midweek meetings, a mindset that strained his relationship with Godolphin who wanted their future stars ridden by the best big race jockey in the world.
However, Dettori’s agent, ex-jockey Ray Cochrane, said: “We will set our sights on winning most of the big races, if we can do, and will have a crack at being champion jockey.
“The biggest thing of not being retained by Godolphin is that I can kick on five days in advance and make it my aim for him to ride the best horses. Godolphin didn’t let me know what he’s riding until 48 hours beforehand.
“He rides for a hell of a lot of trainers here in Newmarket and has links all over the world so he won’t go short of work. Being a professional sportsman is hard work and he’s ridden over 200 winners before.”
Meanwhile bookmakers intend to put their full weight behind a campaign to have Frankel and his trainer Sir Henry Cecil’s achievements marked across the general sporting world.
In 2010 racing pulled together to help champion National Hunt jockey Tony McCoy become Sports Personality of the Year.
Now a similar task is needed to propel Team Frankel into the mindset of the sports public in a vintage year dominated by the Olympics and the Ryder Cup.
“We are offering 8-1 that Sir Henry Cecil gets a special lifetime achievement award and we are also offering 10-1 for Team Frankel (Sir Henry, Frankel and Tom Queally) to be team of the year,” said David Williams of Ladbrokes.
“It’s been some year with the Olympics and the Ryder Cup so there is plenty of competition, but the fact we are mentioning racing in the same breath as those is testimony to what the Frankel team has achieved.
“When Tony McCoy won the main award racing galvanised itself to get organised and try to get a campaign going to get him over the line. That is what we now have to do with Frankel and Sir Henry Cecil. These guys deserve all the credit and we will throw our absolute full weight behind it.
“The Sir Henry Cecil lifetime achievement award would be fitting because of what he has achieved.
“This is what we have to do. We must not rest on our laurels and there’s absolutely no chance of that.”
Frankel said farewell to racing before he embarks on a career at stud by stretching his unbeaten record to 14 in the Qipco Champion Stakes in front of a full house at Ascot.
Williams saluted a horse that has done so much for the sport and feels racing should cash in on his popularity.
“He is the best thing that has happened to this sport for a good many years,” he said.
“It scarcely matters a shot on Saturday yet again he emptied our satchels.”
n Connections of Cityscape, the horse that has helped to launch the career of in-form jockey James Doyle, will decide shortly whether the top-class six-year-old will be retired to stud or return to action next season.
Roger Charlton’s charge made a brilliant start to his campaign by running out a scintillating winner of the Dubai Duty Free at Meydan before signing off for the year with an excellent second to the impressive Excelebration in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes at Ascot.
“He’s come out of the race fine, but we don’t have a plan at this stage, other than he won’t run again this year,” said Charlton.
“I was very pleased with his performance. He ran as well as he did in Dubai and you can’t ask any more than that.”
n The bet 365 Charlie Hall Chase, Wetherby’s £100,000 feature race of the season and which takes place on November 3, has been named as one of three possible targets for Colin Tizzard’s exciting chaser Cue Card.
It comes after the West Country trainer indicated that last season’s Arkle runner-up is set to bypass the prestigious Paddy Power Gold Cup at Cheltenham next month.
“He’ll start off somewhere in the first week of November, but we’re not sure where at the moment,” said Tizzard.
“We’re just concentrating on getting him really fit. The three options are the Haldon Gold Cup at Exeter, a graduation chase at Kempton or the Charlie Hall at Wetherby.
“I don’t fancy the Paddy Power at all. It’s a 20-runner handicap and he might have top-weight. I’m not sure that would be the best thing to do for the horse with the next five years in mind.”
n Albertas Run, a three-time Cheltenham Festival winner for Jonjo O’Neill, will not defend his crown in Saturday’s Betfred Monet’s Garden Old Roan Chase at Aintree.
The 11-year-old, say connections, is at least three weeks away from making a comeback.
However, the meeting could see the comeback of Big Fella Thanks, who has not raced since the 2011 Grand National when he crossed the finish line in a state of exhaustion. He has since switched from Ferdy Murphy’s West Witton stable to the yard of Tom George and is entered in the veterans’ chase.