Frankie Dettori is hoping to get clearance early next week from the French authorities to return to race-riding after his six-month worldwide ban.
The 42-year-old was back home on Friday after spending the previous two days trying to sort out an issue with France Galop, with the aim of returning to the saddle in time for the Investec Derby meeting at Epsom.
Dettori had planned to be back in action this week after the conclusion of the suspension he was given after he tested positive for cocaine at Longchamp last September.
However, a “private matter” between Dettori and the Medical Committee of France Galop has so far prevented the French regulator from clearing the jockey to return, with the British Horseracing Authority reciprocating that stance.
“There will not be any resolution of the situation until the beginning of the week,” said Dettori’s French agent Herve Naggar.
“He returned home this (Friday) morning.
“The timetable of events next week is just the meeting with the Medical Committee of France Galop.
“This is a private matter between Frankie and the doctors and I don’t want anything to disturb that.
“He is still confident they will give him a green light, but it is their decision.
“Doctors do not care about the calendar of racing. Their main concern is to have somebody fit to ride according to their opinion.
“We’ve done our best. There was a problem, but I really think, and hope, that it is going to be sorted as soon as Frankie sees them.”
The BHA will await the outcome of that meeting before deciding on the best course of action.
“If France Galop contact us early next week and say they have signed Frankie off and are happy and he meets all the criteria we will then license him based on that, basically straight away,” said BHA spokesman Robin Mounsey.
“It will have to processed and the admin go through, but it will just be a rubber-stamp exercise and be licensed pretty much straight away.
“If France Galop don’t sign him off, but if they or Frankie come back to us with some new or further information we then have the option of licensing him based on that or more likely he would have to go in front of the licensing committee.
“If he does to have to do that we are aware that the Derby is coming up and of the timescale.”
HILLS: CURRAGH JUST IDEAL FOR JUDGE
Trainer Charlie Hills believes Just The Judge will be suited by the track at the Curragh as the filly has her second chance at Classic glory in the Etihad Airways Irish 1,000 Guineas on Sunday.
The Qatar Racing-owned three-year-old went within just half a length of giving the Lambourn handler his first Classic success in the Qipco 1000 Guineas at Newmarket.
Hills will now bid to go one better in a race his father Barry won twice with Nicer in 1993 and Hula Angel in 1999.
“We thought the track at the Curragh would really suit her – a stiff galloping mile. That is what attracted us to this race,” Hills told At The Races.
“She has come out of Newmarket very well and has done a couple of nice bits of work. She’s fit and well, it’s a Classic and there is no point in bypassing it.
“She’s just had the one run this year so we thought we’d give it a go.
“We’re drawn two so we’re on the rail. We’ll just jump her out, we don’t want to be trapped two deep on that rail so I imagine we’d go slightly forward anyway.”
David Redvers, racing manager to the owners, feels she is the one the others must fear.
“Just The Judge looks the one to beat, she’s certainly the form filly,” he said.
“Dermot Weld’s filly (Big Break) looks a very nice horse and there’s others in there who fancy their chances but ours will be favourite.
“We were keen to stay at a mile with her as she showed plenty of boot at Newmarket.
“We’d have been in the dark heading to Epsom (Oaks) about the trip but we have no question mark over a mile.
“It can also be a one-way ticket to the breeding sheds trying to stretch a filly’s stamina too early.”
Big Break was not quite ready to run at Newmarket but is primed for action now as Weld goes for a fifth win in this race.
“She’s in very good form. In an ideal situation she’d like some cut in the ground which she may not get and she hasn’t been drawn very well (16 of 16),” said Teddy Grimthorpe, racing manager to owner Khalid Abdullah.
“Apart from that she goes into the race in good shape.
“She didn’t go for either the English or French Guineas as she hadn’t come to herself.”
Eddie Lynam reports Viztoria to be ready for her Classic appointment.
The daughter of Oratorio defeated Snow Queen by seven and a half lengths at the Curragh in September before finishing second in a Group Two at Maisons-Laffitte.
She has already shown she has trained on by winning the Group Three Athasi Stakes, also on this track, on her reappearance.
“She’s unbeaten here in Ireland and the only time she has been beaten was in France,” said the County Meath trainer.
“She’s in very good form and everything has gone according to plan.
“Obviously it will be a very tough race and we’ve got that very good filly from England, Charlie Hills’ Just The Judge. She has got a very good chance and looks the one we all have to beat.”
John Oxx is double-handed with Harasiya and What Style, but both have different ground preferences.
“Harasiya is a good filly but may have a preference for softer ground,” said the Currabeg handler.
“She has been a little slow to come to hand but is pretty ready and we’ll have to see how she goes on what we hope will be good ground.
“What Style ran very well in second in the Guineas Trial at Leopardstown when I didn’t think she’d like the soft ground.
“This is a big step up again for her and she has a bit to find but fast ground should suit her. Both her and Harasiya should enjoy a step up to a longer distance in due course.”
CAMELOT RARING TO GO IN CUP CLASH
Joseph O’Brien does not anticipate the small field posing any problems for Camelot in Sunday’s Tattersalls Gold Cup at the Curragh.
Only four go to post for the Group One event over 10 furlongs, a race O’Brien’s father Aidan has won six times in the last eight years, including the last three renewals with Fame And Glory and Sou You Think (twice).
Camelot wrote his own name into Turf history last year by winning the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket, the Derby and the Irish Derby and was only narrowly denied in the St Leger by Encke, preventing him from claiming the Triple Crown last won by Nijinsky in 1970.
He was found wanting in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe but was struck down with colic shortly after that race, only to make a full recovery.
All his old dash looked to be there when making a winning return to action in the Mooresbridge Stakes.
“He had a nice comeback run and did exactly what was hoped so we’re looking forward to Sunday,” said O’Brien jnr.
“The small field won’t matter to him, it doesn’t make a difference if they go quick or slow.
“If they go quick he can sit handy and if they go slow he’s got that turn of foot.
“He stays the trip well enough and it will be decent ground so I’m looking forward to it as he’s a real good ground horse.”
Roger Charlton’s Al Kazeem was an impressive winner of the Gordon Richards Stakes at Sandown on his seasonal bow, returning from almost a year on the sidelines.
He will be having his first Group One outing at the Irish track.
O’Brien also fields Windsor Palace while Joanna Morgan’s Negotiate makes a quick reappearance after finishing last in the Middleton Stakes at York last week.
Charlton knows the size of the task Al Kazeem faces but feels if he had not run, the race would effectively have been a non-event.
He said: “I’ve been hugely impressed by Camelot from the moment I saw him at Tattersalls Sales as a young horse and he’s very talented. He’ll be a hard nut to crack.
“We must have a good chance of getting in the money with just four runners, though.
“It would have been disappointing for racing if we hadn’t turned up.
“Realistically Camelot has won five Group Ones and we are running in one for the first time so we have a bit to prove, but I think it’s fair to say Al Kazeem has improved.
“He made a big quantum leap of improvement to win the Jockey Club Stakes last year and proved that he had maintained that improvement by winning at Sandown when my horses were not running particularly well.
“I think he will have come on from that race quite a lot and I’ve been pleased with his work.
“Having won a Group Two we need to aim at Group Ones now. It could be a muddle of a race with a small field and obviously Camelot has a good turn of foot, so it’s a tough situation.
“He’s in good shape, so we’ll give it a go.”
AHERN LODGES APPEAL
Eddie Ahern has lodged an appeal against the decision of the British Horseracing Authority to suspend him from riding for 10 years.
Ahern was found guilty of conspiring to commit a corrupt or fraudulent practice along with former footballer Neil Clement at a disciplinary hearing on Wednesday.
The rider stated his intention to appeal and has now completed that process, as has James Clutterbuck, son of trainer Ken, who was banned for 30 months after being found guilty of passing on inside information.
The BHA tweeted: “Eddie Ahern lodges appeal against decision of Disciplinary Panel to find breaches of several Rules of Racing, as well as penalties imposed.
“The date of the hearing will be announced in due course, as will the date of the James Clutterbuck appeal.”
GROUP RACE OPTIONS ALIVE FOR OH
Connections of Alive Alive Oh are mulling a couple of Group race options for the filly next month following her impressive Listed win last time out.
The Tommy Stack-trained filly was a six-length winner at Navan, stepping up in some style on her previous Cork maiden victory.
Alive Alive Oh was touted as a possible Oaks contender but Fozzy Stack, the trainer’s son and assistant, pointed to the Group Three Cork Racecourse Mallow Noblesse Stakes on June 16 as a prospective target, with a trip to Royal Ascot on June 20 also an option.
He said: “She is in good form and will run next in either the Noblesse Stakes at Cork or the Ribblesdale Stakes at Royal Ascot.”
BONFIRE RUN BAFFLES CONNECTIONS
Connections of Bonfire remain baffled by the four-year-old’s poor display in the Huxley Stakes at Chester.
A big run had been expected from the Andrew Balding-trained gelding in the Group Three contest on the Roodee on the back of a promising effort on his reappearance in the Earl of Sefton Stakes at Newmarket where he was third to Mull Of Killough.
However, it was not to be as Bonfire finished last of seven behind Danadana.
“We are regrouping with him,” said Harry Herbert, managing director of owners Highclere Thoroughbred Racing told At The Races.
“He was really disappointing at Chester having run very well first time up at the Craven meeting. The Huxley looked absolutely ideal for him.
“Everything came right but he didn’t come right for whatever reason. Nothing has come to light so we are trying to kick on.
“Andrew wants to do a couple more tests and provided they are all clear, then we will look for another option for him.
“I’m not exactly sure where we will go with him.”