'I've let my wife and children down': Star jockey Frankie Dettori apologises to his family after receiving a six month ban for failing drugs test
Former champion jockey failed drugs test at Longchamp on September 16
It has been reported that the substance was cocaineDettori’s ban matches that of Kieren Fallon who tested positive for the drug while riding in France in 2006.
20:06 GMT, 5 December 2012
Family man: Frankie with wife Catherine son Leo and daughter Ella at the premiere of The Chronicles Of Narnia in December 2005
Star jockey Frankie Dettori today apologised for ‘letting down my wife and children’ after being banned from racing for six months for drug taking.
The 41-year-old Italian tested positive for a banned substance, thought to be cocaine, at the Longchamp racecourse in Paris on September 16.
France Galop, the country’s racing authority, carried out a protracted investigation and today announced the worldwide ban in the French capital.
It is a huge blow to the household name sportsman who shot into the public imagination in 1996 with a ‘Magnificent Seven’ wins at Ascot. He frequently makes public appearances with his wife, Catherine, and their five children, who live near Newmarket, Suffolk.
Christopher Stewart-Moore, Dettori’s
lawyer, said the Italian-born jockey’s ‘biggest regret’ following the
drugs scandal was that ‘he has let down his wife and children’.
statement released by Mr Stewart-Moore added: ‘France Galop have today
announced that they have found Frankie Dettori in breach of their rules
relating to prohibited substances.
have spoken to Frankie Dettori since the announcement was made and he
has told me he fully accepts France Galop’s decision. ‘He also accepts
he has let down the sport he loves and all those associated with it, as
well as the wider public.’
Mr Stewart-Moore said on that Dettori had received a ‘sympatheic hearing’ in Paris.
ended his 18-year association with powerful owners Godolphin earlier
this year, with the three-times champion jockey planning to ride as a
freelance in 2013.
his talent as a jockey known of his trademark victory dismounts, Dettori
runs food businesses including a London restaurant with celebrity chef
Marco Pierre White.
Early in his career, in 1993, Dettori
was given a police caution after being caught with a small amount of
cocaine in his pocket in London.
his autobiography he admitted that he become a ‘tearaway, a night-club
wolf, a drugs dabbler who was perilously close to seeing his career go
permanently off the rails’.
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Dettori wins the Prince of Wales's Stakes, his 45th Royal Ascot victory, on Rewilding in June 2011
Unseated: Dettori has been banned from racing for six months
a BBC Newsnight programme he also admitted taking diuretics, chocolate
laxatives and even Lasix, to keep his weight down, before the Jockey
Club outlawed them in 1998.
Kieran Fallon was banned by the French authorities after testing
positive for a metabolite of a banned substance at Chantilly in 2009 he
was banned six months.
He tested positive again at Deauville on August 19 2007, a second offence for which he received an 18-month ban.
will be able to start rebuilding his career after the start of his
suspension was back-dated to November 19 when he was initially just
banned in France.
It means he will be able to get back in the saddle competitively on Sunday May 19, two months into the season and after the main trials for the Derby at Epsom.
But he will miss the 1,000 and 2,000 Guineas next season and most of the important Classic trials.
Shock: Frankie Dettori, pictured with his wife Catherine, is a well-loved character in the UK
The revelation of his failed drug test caused a sensation
in the racing world, and beyond. Dettori was awarded an MBE in 2000 and has become a major TV
He was a one-time captain on the BBC's A Question of Sport and co-owner of a restaurant with chef Marco Pierre White.
France Galop announced Dettori’s suspension 24 hours after the jockey’s case had been heard by its Stewards’ Committee in Paris.
That hearing came a fortnight after the Medical Committee of France Galop ruled Dettori had a case to answer and just over three weeks after it first emerged on November 13 that Dettori had produced a positive test.
The jockey did not attend either hearing but gave evidence to the Medical Committee via a conference call during which it is understood he expressed a desire to rebuild his career.
Just how hard that will be, Dettori is about to find out.
The most vivacious and engaging personality in racing should be able to work his way back into the sport. Other jockeys, like Fallon, have proved that after a positive drug test.
The situation surrounding Dettori’s lapse – the erosion and ultimate ending of his position within Sheik Mohammed’s Godolphin empire – will elicit sympathy in some quarters and his ability as a jockey will ensure there will be owners and trainers happy to book one of the sport’s most naturally-gifted talents.
But the extended absence from the
sport comes at a time when, post Godolphin, Dettori had hoped to
establish himself as the go-to freelance rider in British racing and,
maybe, even challenge for a fourth championship.
Potential rides will have to be offered to rivals and possibly be lost forever.
The rebuilding of Dettori’s wider image will certainly be difficult. The happy-go-lucky image of the father of five has been tainted.
Dettori produced the positive test on the day he had four unsuccessful mounts at Longchamp on Arc trials day.
It came 24 hours after Encke had won the St Leger at Doncaster for his then employers Godolphin.
The colt had been ridden by young French jockey Mickael Barzalkona, whose promotion within the Sheik Mohammed operation had increasingly undermined Dettori, who had lost his status as the stable’s No 1 jockey.
There has been speculation that the disappointment of missing the Leger winner – Dettori had finished third on John Gosden’s Michelangelo – may have led to a moment of madness from an emotional athlete at a low ebb.
Rumours of a split from Godolphin had
circulated before the Derby in June when the huge operation failed to
find a runner for Dettori to ride and handed the mount on Kailani, their
only representative in the Oaks, to Barzalona.
Sporting minds: In 2002 Frankie became a team captain on A Question of Sport
Frankie Dettori receives his prize from The Queen after winning the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes on Daylami at Ascot in July, 1999
Born: Milan, December 15, 1970
Father: Multiple Italian champion jockey Gianfranco Dettori
First winner: Rif, Turin, Nov 16, 1986
First winner in Britain: Lizzy Hare, Goodwood, June 9, 1987.
Champion apprentice: 1989
Champion jockey: 1994, 1995, 2004
Married to: Catherine, five children (three girls, two boys)
Strike rate: 28 per cent
Group One victories: 110 (262 victories at Listed level or higher)
Dubai World Cup wins: Three – Dubai Millennium (2000), Moon Ballad (2003) & Electrocutionist (206)
He won 14 British Classics (nine riding for Godolphin)
On September 28, 1996, he partnered all seven winners on the card at Ascot
He survived a plane crash at Newmarket in 2000.
Has his name on a selection of Italian-style foods. Chain of restaurants in London – Frankie's Italian Bar & Grill.
Dettori’s only group one winner in Britain for Godolphin this season was Colour Vision in the Ascot Gold Cup and his paltry return of 51 winners was his worst since his plane crash season in 2000.
The split finally did come when Dettori chose to ride Aidan O’Brien-trained Camelot in the Prix De L’Arc De Triomphe in October, a horse owned by Ireland’s Coolmore Stud, the Sheik’s big sporting and commercial rival.
It appeared a calculated act which inevitably led to the announcement that Dettori’s hugely-successful 18-year association with Godolphin would end at the close of the 2012 season.
His last ride for the stable proved to be his final mount before his ban when unplaced on Cavalryman in the Melbourne Cup on November 6.
The jockey parted company with racing stable Godolphin last month after an 18-year relationship.
Dettori was expected to continue
working his contract until the end of this year but Godolphin said at
the time that 'the retainer was not really working'. In 1993, Dettori
received a caution for possession of cocaine after he had been to watch
Arsenal and Sheffield Wednesday play at Wembley in the FA Cup final.
Speaking about it in 2010, he said: 'That wasn't about losing weight. That was for fun.'
Describing how a 'fast' lifestyle took
over from his focus on horse racing when he began earning big money, he
added: 'Everyone wanted to be with me. I'd go clubbing, there was
cocaine and there I was like the big show-off, the idiot.'
The jockey also had a professional DJ
booth built in his home. He said: 'It started off as a bit of a joke,
but now I can't imagine life without it.
'When we have people round and the
champagne's flowing I start playing music, but I usually get kicked off
pretty fast because everybody wants a go.'
Dettori left his homeland for England
to join Luca Cumani’s Newmarket stable as an apprentice in July, 1985,
notching his first British winner on June 9, 1987, at Goodwood on board
Two years later he took the champion apprentice title in Britain.
But his exploits in the saddle
achieved legendary status at Ascot on September 28, 1996, when he
partnered all seven winners on the card.
His historic 'Magnificent Seven'
included four in the royal blue silks of Godolphin, headed by the
brilliant Mark Of Esteem in the Group One Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, as
well as Wall Street, Diffident and Fatefully.
The British-based jockey has won more than 500 group races in his career.
The 41-year-old partnered nine
English Classic winners in the royal blue silks of Godolphin, including
their first in 1994 Oaks victor Balanchine, and a total of 110 Group or
Grade One winners for the owner.
He was awarded the MBE in 2000 and in
2002 became a team captain on the BBC show A Question of Sport, but
quit the following year when he was apparently stung by a question from a
participant as to when he had retired from riding.
THE DAY DETTORI BROKE THE BOOKMAKERS' HEARTS
Unbridled joy: Frankie celebrates his seven out of seven with a flying dismount from Fujiyama Crest
Whatever the future holds for Frankie
Dettori, his name will forever be etched in Turf legend for what he
achieved on an unforgettable afternoon at Ascot in 1996.
On Queen Elizabeth II Stakes day, with the BBC cameras rolling, he went through the card with seven winners from seven rides – his 'Magnificent Seven'.
It was a historic occasion within the sport, but it resonated in the big wide world, too, securing a special place in popular culture for the Italian jockey.
The cumulative starting price odds for anyone who had the good fortune to back the winners – and plenty did – were 25,095-1, though 'early bird' prices suggest the true odds against it happening were 235,834-1.
Dettori began by winning the Cumberland Lodge Stakes (Group Three) on Wall Street (2-1), and followed that when Diffident (12-1) scrambled home by two short heads in the Diadem Stakes (Group Two).
Both horses were owned by his Godolphin paymasters, who also provided his mount in the day's feature Group One race, the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes.
Mark Of Esteem was sent off a 100-30 chance and put up a career-best performance in beating crack filly Bosra Sham by one and a quarter lengths.
Bookmakers were getting twitchy by now, and Dettori did little for their heart-rate by landing an easy victory in the Tote Festival Handicap on John Gosden's 7-1 chance Decorated Hero.
With the yankees already in the bag, Fatefully (7-4) won the next race, another handicap, by a neck in the Godolphin colours, and number six came up when the Ian Balding-trained juvenile Lochangel (5-4) led all the way for victory by three-quarters of a length in a conditions event.
And so to the remarkable seventh race.
As punters heaped money on Dettori's mount Fujiyama Crest, bookmakers slashed the odds – and prayed for it to be defeated.
Dettori bounced him out of the stalls and was soon in front, playing catch-me-if-you-can, and as they turned into the final straight he was still there as the crowd's roars reached frenzied proportions.
Pat Eddery delivered a fierce challenge on Northern Fleet, throwing everything into the finish, but Fujiyama Crest held on by a neck.
Dettori returned to the winner's enclosure among delirious racegoers and shell-shocked bookmakers, while off-course the number crunchers were totting up losses to the industry of about 30million, with William Hill over 8m down and Ladbrokes even more.
The day was immense for Dettori, both for his unique place in racing history and for his image outside it.
Little wonder then that when the opportunity arose to acquire a special memento of the day, he took it – and bought Fujiyama Crest.
VIDEO: 'I've let my family down': Dettori's solicitor reads a statement from the jockey…
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