Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 26 November 2014

The Punter: Frankie’s odds-on pointer

Frankie Dettori is temptingly priced at 1/4 to start next season as a freelance
Frankie Dettori is temptingly priced at 1/4 to start next season as a freelance

So Frankie Dettori has been ‘freed' from Godolphin ‘shackles’ to launch another bid for the jockeys' title he last won in 2004 .

Frankie says he's hungry for another but what else would he say after being ousted from the second biggest operation after Coolmore. However, his chances of landing a fourth championship are extremely slim and in fact he'll do well to win 100 races next year, making him a good bet at 5/4 not to meet even that target.

Reading and listening to all the hype, one would think he had been a Godolphin slave. If he was, he certainly reaped great rewards both financially and in media profile during his 18 years of ‘restrictive practice.' Would he have won his three titles without the big guns behind him? Most certainly not.

Forget all the talk about Frankie being in line for other top jobs. Those are now few and far between and while Godolphin have said they'll use him in the future, rest assured, only if Mickael Barzalona, Silvestre De Sousa or Ahmed Ajtebi are unavailable.

Dettori, one of the greatest jockeys of all time, is now 41-years-old and will need to clock up the mileage up and down the country at mediocre meetings, riding average horses in search of winners.

Just look at how Kieren Fallon has struggled since going out on his own. He almost quit this year, having ridden 79 winners from 593 rides and don't be surprised if Frankie contemplates retirement in 2013 for which he is 6/1.

This season, Frankie has 50 winners from 385 rides, a strike rate of 13 per cent. He will need a rate of around 20 per cent to be champion and that'll mean having to ride in the region of 800 horses. Where is he going to get them?

Ask champion-elect Richard Hughes or the previous champion Paul Hannigan. They would just laugh at such a claim.

Despite all the spin of a ‘new challenge' and the retainer ‘not really working,' it was a quick end for Dettori whose only major success for Godolphin this year was on Colour Vision in the Gold Cup.

The parting of the ways was inevitable once Frankie agreed to ride Camelot in the Arc for rivals Coolmore.

The last time he rode for Aidan O'Brien was in winning the 2005 St Leger on Scorpion and afterwards admitted he made ‘a mistake' when Sheikh Mohammed was less than pleased that a man to whom he was paying a massive retainer, should come to the assistance of the ‘old enemy' in the supremacy battle for Group winners and future stallions.

The fact Coolmore have been winning that particular battle for the last decade did not help.

Dettori is not stupid — he knew what he was doing.

Preparing his exit strategy before being totally pushed aside by teenager Barzalona who ironically won the 2011 Derby on Pour Moi for the Coolmore team, but trained by France's Andre Fabre .

Once Godolphin brought Barzalona in as Dettori's eventual replacement, Frankie knew his days with them were numbered and that was emphasised by the youngster being given the winning rides in the Dubai World Cup on Monterosso, Encke in the St Leger and most recently on next year’s 1000 Guineas hope Certify.

He was supposed to be Frankie's understudy but the Italian found himself playing second fiddle.

A price of 1/4 on Dettori to start the season as a freelance is simply money for lifting but just don't expect another title for the Italian.

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