Friday, June 1, 2007

Dettori for the Derby?

Britain's bookmakers are in a £40million sweat as Frankie Dettori goes in search of his first Vodafone Derby winner on red-hot favourite Authorized at Epsom on Saturday.

The ever-popular Italian has won every other Classic on the calendar more than twice, but 14 previous rides in the biggest one of them all have been to no avail.

The legendary Sir Gordon Richards had to wait until his 28th ride in the race before he finally broke his Derby duck at the age of 49.

Dettori has said on many occasions he will have his feet up as he approaches his 50th birthday and this is seen by many as the best chance he will ever have.

But with the 36-year-old having such a huge following - due in no small part to him riding all seven winners on an unforgettable day at Ascot in 1996 - the bookmakers are bracing themselves for an almighty gamble.

"Frankie fever has got us in a right sweat. It's a one-horse race as far as the punters are concerned. All the money is for Frankie's horse Authorized," said Damian Walker of totesport.

"The weight of money we've seen for Authorized will ensure he starts one of the shortest-priced Derby favourites for years.

"But the last three odds-on favourites in the Derby have all been beaten and you have to go back 1981 when 10-11 favourite Shergar won, so we are not without hope.

"It's now or never for Frankie. He's never really had the perfect Derby ride, but this time he's on the best horse, the ground will be perfect and Authorized's trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam knows what it takes as he won the race in 1992 with Dr Devious.

"If Frankie doesn't do it this year then he knows he probably never will."

Dettori had a slight scare ahead of the race after he was unshipped at Goodwood last week and injured his knee.

However, he has been having intensive physiotherapy all week, and despite giving up his rides on Wednesday, he is confident he will do himself justice.

"It's improving every day. I've had a good physio team working on me morning and night and it's holding up quite well," said Dettori.

"But three days ago I had my son in my arms going up the stairs when I tripped and because I didn't want to let him go I pulled my knee a little bit. I'm OK now.

"I can't wait for the race now. He goes on soft, we didn't want very heavy ground. Good to soft is good enough. Now it's a matter of going there and doing it," Dettori told BBC Sport.

Heading the opposition to Authorized is a team of eight from Aidan O'Brien's powerful Ballydoyle stable in Ireland.

Due to the size of his squad, O'Brien has called upon the services of a few relatively unknown jockeys, one being Wayne Lordan, who partners Chester Vase winner Soldier Of Fortune.

"He was beaten by Passage Of Time in France but he has been stepping up since then. I'm sure he'll run a good race," said Lordan.

"I haven't sat on the horse before but I've watched him plenty of times. He looks straightforward.

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