Frankie Dettori has his sins, don’t we all, but he has served his punishment in the racing world and you had to feel sorry for the charismatic Italian in missing out on the winning ride on Treve in the Arc last Sunday.
The former champion jockey broke his ankle at Nottingham last week and had to endure watching fellow horseman Thierry Jarnet enjoy an armchair ride on the winner who coasted home by an easy five lengths.
Frankie’s absence brings up the very difficult question of whether jockeys should ride at low-key meetings in the week or weeks before they have a big-race mount?
On the one hand, even though Frankie picked up a winner at Nottingham, the risk of picking up an injury and missing out on riding the Arc second favourite might have been enough to make him steer well clear of the Midlands track.
Every year when the Cheltenham Festival comes around, we see a high-profile jockey get injured in the previous weeks and miss out on the best, and most lucrative for them, week in the Jumps calendar.
However, a lot of top-class riding is instinct and jockeys can’t just hibernate themselves away from the lower echelons of the sport while looking forward to a big ride. Connections of horses in the bigger races expect their riders to be at the top of their game and this means having recent match practise.
Unfortunately missing out on the best rides is just part of our great game for jockeys and undoubtedly, this will happen to someone else soon. Happily for Frankie, the news broke on Sunday that his contract as a retained rider with Sheikh Joaan Al Thani has been renewed for another year.
I’m really not keen in tipping up favourites in big races but when there’s good money for a Charles Byrnes-trained contestant, as there has been for Domination in Saturday’s Cesarewitch at Newmarket, it rarely gets left behind.
The ground there is currently good to firm, which would be absolutely perfect for the selection, and the Limerick wizard has had this race as the target ever since he won the Cesarewitch Trial over course and distance by four and a half lengths last year.
He’s risen quite a bit in the handicap since and doesn’t have an explosive turn of foot, but is a great galloper which is what you need for this race.
I also like the look of Ado McGuinness’s Pivot Bridge in the two-mile handicap hurdle at Tramore on Thursday.
This fellow took a while to win, scoring under David Splaine at Gowran Park last week over the same distance, but the current yielding ground at Tramore should be absolutely perfect.
The one thing I liked about this five-year-old’s recent success was his tenacity as he led from two fences out and eventually showed more grit than half-length runner-up Billybuster. There’s a chance he’s a well-handicapped horse.
Betting against Sebastian Vettel in Formula 1 at the moment is a risky proposition as he has won the last four races, but I can’t be backing him at odds-on and will go for Jenson Button instead each-way at an incredible 150-1.
Last year Button finished fourth behind Vettel, and while we need him to exceed that and finish two places higher to collect, he actually won this race in 2011 when coming home 1.1 seconds in front of Fernando Alonso.
The Frome-born driver hasn’t been hitting the podium in his recent spins but he has enjoyed a top 10 finish in his last six races and given his Japanese form, I just think that 150-1 is far too big.
Thursday Tramore 3.15pm Pivot Bridge; Saturday Newmarket 3.50pm Domination; Sunday Japan 7am Jenson Button each-way
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