Dettori’s Derby hopes still alive

Jockey Frankie Dettori still hopes to be able to ride at the Investec Derby meeting this weekend following a further meeting with France Galop officials yesterday.

Dettori’s Derby hopes still alive

The French authority banned the Italian for six months after he tested positive for cocaine at Longchamp last September, but the rider had been due to return to action last week after serving that suspension.

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.

Dettori, his solicitor Christopher Stewart Moore and French agent Herve Naggar were all present at a meeting with the French authority yesterday.

Naggar reports some progress to have been made, with Dettori’s team hoping the rider will be cleared for action by the end of the week.

He said: “Following the problem of last week, Frankie Dettori asked to be retested, both last week and yesterday.

“The medical committee accepted the explanation of the mishap with his earlier test and it is hoped that by the end of the week Frankie Dettori will be allowed to ride in France.

“This will be subject to getting the results of his final tests and them coming back all clear, hopefully this will have happened by Thursday night and without Frankie having to meet with France Galop again.

“The results of the first tests have come back and they are fine and it was at Frankie’s request that he took all the tests again.”

The Derby meeting begins at Epsom on Friday and Dettori’s team are keen to be back in action by then.

The 42-year-old has been riding work for Aidan O’Brien and has been touted as a possible jockey for one of the Ballydoyle raiders.

Meanwhile, Qatar Racing Ltd has bought a half-share in leading Investec Oaks candidate Secret Gesture ahead of the Classic at Epsom on Friday.

The promising filly will stay with Ralph Beckett, who already has a win in the Oaks to his name with Look Here in 2008.

Qatar Racing is the brainchild of Sheikh Fahad Al Thani and the organisation enjoyed its first Classic success on Sunday when Just The Judge landed the Irish 1,000 Guineas for Charlie Hills.

Secret Gesture was an impressive winner of the Lingfield Oaks Trial and is currently favourite to give Beckett another win in the race.

Fort Knox, meanwhile, is likely to drop in class on his next start after he disappointed in the Irish 2,000 Guineas at the Curragh on Saturday.

Sheikh Mohammed’s new recruit was quietly fancied to provide Johnny Murtagh with Classic honours on his first day with competitive runners as a trainer.

Fort Knox never looked happy, though, and beat just one horse home.

Murtagh also rode the Dubawi colt in the Guineas and felt his mount had been hamstrung by the fast ground.

He said: “Fort Knox came out of the race pretty well.

“It was very disappointing the way he raced, but he didn’t handle the fast ground.

“He was also hanging a bit on that ground, but he’s fine now, which is the main thing.

“We’ll settle down and start him back off in a Group Three, but he won’t be running anywhere unless it’s good to soft.”

Fort Knox still holds an entry in the St James’s Palace Stakes at Royal Ascot, but Murtagh said: “I don’t know about that – we’ll have to assess things over the next few days.”

* Joyeuse, a half-sister to Frankel, made a successful racecourse debut at Lingfield last evening.

Trained by Henry Cecil, Joyeuse was sent off the 10-11 favourite for the British Stallion Studs Supporting British Racing EBF Maiden Fillies’ Stakes over six furlongs.

Sporting a hood, the Oasis Dream filly took a keen hold in the early stages but Tom Queally managed to settle her in behind front-runner Prisca before switching wide to challenge around two furlongs out.

Joyeuse took a few strides before the penny started to drop, but she picked up stylishly in the final furlong, eventually coming home three and a quarter lengths clear of Dancealot.

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