Still the sword dangles upon its horsehair.
The protracted procedural ordeal of Frankie Dettori was yesterday extended one last time, following what his lawyer described as “a very sympathetic hearing” in Paris.
Dettori (right), who notoriously failed a drugs test at Longchamp in September, was not himself required to join Christopher Stewart-Moore at a 40-minute meeting of the French racing authority's disciplinary panel, which deferred formal pronouncement of its punishment until this morning. All precedent suggests he will receive a six-month suspension, which would be reciprocated worldwide by other racing jurisdictions.
Stewart-Moore confined himself to acknowledging the congenial atmosphere. He did indicate some comment would be volunteered after Dettori's fate had been announced, but none in the meantime “out of respect for the decision-making process”.
A medical commission had already considered Dettori's case, two weeks previously, after which his licence was temporarily suspended. Stewart-Moore had already accepted its findings “without reservation”, with an implied admission that a ban is inevitable on a principle of strict liability.
His principal objective since has been to get that suspension backdated, at worst to that date, 21 November, and ideally to 6 November — the last time Dettori rode in public, in the Melbourne Cup.
His submission is presumed to be that Dettori, in effect, anticipated a ban by declining any opportunity to ride, pending charges that had not yet been made public. Unfortunately, the standard practice in France is for suspensions to commence nine days after their publication — and hitherto France Galop could not have adhered more scrupulously to its protocols. An earlier attempt to accelerate the process, by dovetailing the two hearings, proved unsuccessful.
A jockey who will be able to look upon 2012 with rather more pride is Graham Lee, who rode his 100th winner of the year — his first since an audacious switch from jumps to Flat — at Wolverhampton yesterday.