x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Jockey Frankie Dettori to ride for Sheikh Joaan Bin Hamad of Qatar

After a freelance comeback following his drug ban last month, Italian hopes to return to limelight, writes Geoffrey Riddle.

After a drug ban last month, jockey Frankie Dettori will be the retained rider for Sheikh Joaan Bin Hamad of Qatar. Jorge Ferrari / AFP
After a drug ban last month, jockey Frankie Dettori will be the retained rider for Sheikh Joaan Bin Hamad of Qatar. Jorge Ferrari / AFP

Frankie Dettori's freelance career has received a major boost following the announcement Monday that he will be the retained rider for Sheikh Joaan Bin Hamad of Qatar.

The brother of the Emir of Qatar had long been courting Dettori's services and the deal was signed off officially in Chantilly, France, on Sunday.

Dettori has found life as a freelance extremely difficult, having made his comeback from a lengthy drugs ban last month.

He has ridden just five winners from 85 rides in Britain since his six-month enforced break although he was second on three mounts during Royal Ascot two weeks ago.

The former Godolphin rider, 42, believes his new association could catapult him back into the limelight.

"Sheikh Joaan has got plenty of horses and he's got plans to expand, so it's a good opportunity for me to get back in the big league," Dettori told a British racing channel.

"I had no plans but this opportunity came along. Sheikh Joaan plans to be a big player in racing and with my experience, I hope I can help him."He's got plenty of good horses around Europe and let's hope we can start well."

Sheikh Joaan has a significant string of horses in England, but has run more horses in France in 2013, his first full season as a thoroughbred owner.

Toronado and Olympic Glory are his two flag-bearers for the Classic generation, although as they are trained by Richard Hannon, the jockey Richard Hughes will keep the rides on both mounts for the foreseeable future.

Dettori can expect the leg-up on the rest of Sheikh Joaan's horses based in England such as Planteur, Marco Botti's Dubai World Cup third and Prix d'Ispahan runner-up, who he has ridden previously, as well as renewing his association with Sandiva, whom he rode to second in the Albany Stakes at Royal Ascot for Richard Fahey.

It is in France where Dettori could be most successful though. Nicolas Clement's Style Vendome, the French 2000 Guineas winner, and Mshawish, who was fourth in the St James's Palace Stakes for Dettori at Royal Ascot, is just some of the thoroughbred talent that the Italian must cross The Channel to ride.

Sheikh Joaan is well known in Dubai for owning TM Fred Texas and Al Mamun Monlau, the past two Dubai Kahayla Classic winners.

He has a large Purebred Arabian string although it is not yet known whether Dettori's agreement includes riding these horses.

Elsewhere Shea Shea warmed up for his tilt at the July Cup by working on Newmarket's July Course yesterday morning.

Shea Shea, the Al Quoz Sprint winner, was just touched off in the King's Stand Stakes by old rival Sole Power at Royal Ascot.

The two horses look set to clash again over a furlong further in the July Cup on July 13.

"He's settled down quite a lot since Ascot," Steve Jell, assistant to trainer Mike De Kock, said.

"It was gutting to be beaten, but it was just one of those things. He was in front for such a long time and he would have liked to have been pulled through a little bit more. But once you hit the front, you have got to go."

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