Frankie Dettori is bullish about hitting 150 winners this season and his upbeat talk has seen him cut in the race for the Flat jockey’s title.
He will need to surpass that target, and then some, if he is to unseat current champion Ryan Moore and win it for a fourth time — his last was back in 2004.
However, he teams up with top trainer Mark Johnston which should greatly help his cause but getting beaten on a |1-4 shot trained by Ballyclare-born Noel Wilson as he did in the first race at Lingfield on Monday will not have endeared him to supporters.
To be fair to Frankie, he gave the horse every chance and it was only in the final strides that Abbondanza was caught, going down by a head.
Dettori has been cut from 25-1 to 12s, but don’t be jumping in for that.
Alternatively, he is 4-1 favourite with Skybet to win the handicap title, getting a start of 75, but that too has to be treated with caution as more than likely it will mean having to ride more than last year’s total of 104.
Dettori won the handicap last year but had a start of 110.
His previous season totals were 67, 77 and 131 compared to 233 in 1994 and 194 10 years ago, which were his first and last title triumphs.
If he is to succeed again, it will mean a lot of travelling and going to many of the meetings in the north of England and Scotland where a lot of Johnston runners compete.
If Frankie can land in the region of 45 winners by the end of June then he would be on target to land that handicap bet.
Moore took the title last year with 174 winners and he can look to 50 plus in view of his attachment to Sir Michael Stoute.
And for that reason Moore is in at unattractive prices ranging from 8-15 to 1-3.
Kieren Fallon is back on the scene and will be doing his utmost to make an impact. He
makes some appeal at 10-1 with a 40-winner start on the handicap, and landed a double at Wolverhampton on Monday.
But the best value in this market lies with Richard Hughes on the same handicap mark and quoted at a tasty 12-1.
Hughes can be anticipated to maintain his plethora of winners for leading trainer Richard Hannon, something that saw him finish second in the title race to Moore last year on 144.
Moore’s agent Tony Hind also has Hughes on his books, and Jimmy Fortune who has been replaced by William Buick as John Gosden’s number one jockey.
Fortune will operate as a freelance and is likely to pick up quite a number of opportunities both from big and small yards.
Hind says: “My other lads are the dangers and I’ll be surprised if Ryan beats Jimmy by 90 winners. He’ll be a force to be reckoned with as a freelance.”
Skybet Flat jockeys’ title handicap betting: 4-1 L Dettori (+75 winners); 8-1 P Hanagan (+75); 10-1 K Fallon (+40); 12-1 Richard Hughes (+40), J Spencer (+80), W Buick (+80), J Fanning (+90), T Queally (+90), J Fortune (+95); 14-1 R Moore (scratch), N Callan (+80), P Makin (+85), E Ahern (+90), R Hills (+90).