SEVERAL trainers taking advantage of Frankie Dettori's surprising availability on Derby Day have given a ringing endorsement of the superstar jockey's talents.
News outlets went into meltdown on Wednesday night amid a false rumour that the 41-year-old was to retire following the decision by Godolphin to choose Mickael Barzalona to ride Kailani in today's Investec Oaks.
Apart from when recovering from a plane crash in 2000, this is the first time Dettori has not been at the Derby in 20 years and he will be in action at Haydock Park instead. Although still the senior jockey at Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin team, racing manager Simon Crisford has stated that Dettori will have to settle for a share of the best rides with Barzalona and Silvestre de Sousa.
On this weekend five years ago, Dettori was enjoying his only victory in the Epsom Classic aboard Peter Chapple-Hyam's Authorized, and he will be teaming up with the Newmarket trainer in a race just 20 minutes before the Derby, the Blue Square Sandy Lane Stakes.
“It's Frankie Dettori,” said Chapple-Hyam. “He's the best jockey there is. He's a living legend.”
On his runner in the Listed race, Samminder, the trainer said: “He has run well already this season and the drying ground will help so he goes there with every chance.”
As well as representing Godolphin trainer Saeed Bin Suroor, Dettori has picked up mounts for Brian Meehan and David O'Meara and teams up with an old ally, Jamie Osborne's Never Can Tell, in the Bet At bluesquare.com Stakes.
Crisford has described the recent fervour over Dettori's future as a “storm in a teacup”.