It was hardly the fairy-tale comeback that Frankie Dettori had envisaged.
After six months on the sidelines due to a drugs ban, Dettori craved a win on his first ride back in front of a packed grandstand on Ladies’ Day.
Instead, the ebullient Italian trailed in last in the Princess Elizabeth Stakes on Beatrice Aurore, owned by Benny Andersson, star of the pop group ABBA. Mamma mia, indeed.
To compound Dettori’s misery, he also finished last on Sri Putra in the Group 3 Diomed Stakes while sandwiched between those two performances was a fifth-place finish on Marco Botti’s Fattsota.
Whether Dettori had any realisation how hard it might be to ride freelance after 18 years with Godolphin, he was acutely aware of it after yesterday’s efforts.
“I am afraid of the future,” he said after his three rides.
“I have been keeping fit but I still have to shed two to three pounds but that will come with time.
“I am freelance now and it is a new challenge for me. I worked for one firm for 18 years and I am most grateful for Sheikh Mohammed [bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai] for all the kindness that he gave me and it is something I will never forget.”
Earlier in the day, Dettori had stated that he felt like a “kid before Christmas”, although unlike a child on Christmas Eve he did not appear to get up early enough.
Dettori, 42, arrived with 15 minutes to spare before he had to weigh out for his ride on Beatrice Aurore and later revealed it was because of poor planning.
Dettori had hoped to get to the racecourse in good time by helicopter from his home in Newmarket but excess fog meant that he had to reroute to Epsom by car.
“I got stuck in traffic,” he said, “and then I thought: ‘My first ride after six months and I’m not going to make it.’
“I got out of the car and the security guards stopped me because I didn’t have a badge so I had to run across and leap the rail. I didn’t care if they chased me or not because I wasn’t going to miss it.
“I ran the last three furlongs and that took all of the worries away because I didn’t have time to get nervous.”
Ralph Beckett saddled the first two home in the Oaks, when Talent, ridden by Richard Hughes, held off stablemate Secret Gesture, ridden by Jim Crowley.
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