Frankie Dettori wants to be champion jockey again after ban

By Frank KeoghBBC Sport
Frankie Dettori banned from racing after failing drugs test

Frankie Dettori wants to become champion jockey again when he returns from a six-month drugs ban, his solicitor has told BBC Sport.

"He is hoping to use this new start to his career as a point from which he can win the jockeys' championship," said Christopher Stewart-Moore.

The three-time champion is suspended until May after testing positive for a banned substance in France.

Dettori, 41, will miss the first eight weeks of the 2013 Flat racing season.

But the British-based Italian rider will be eligible to return from 20 May, in time for the Epsom Derby and Royal Ascot meetings in June, after French racing authority France Galop backdated the ban to his first hearing on 20 November.

It means he will miss the Dubai World Cup, the world's richest race, and also sit out the opening Classics at Newmarket's Guineas meeting in May. The season ends on 9 November.

Dettori won the jockeys' championship - decided by total number of wins in a season - in 1994, 1995 and 2004, but had largely concentrated on bigger races in recent years.

In a statement after the ban was announced, the father-of-five said he had "let down the sport he loves" and, most of all, "his wife and children".

But he wants to bounce back in 2013 when he will ride as a freelance, his 18-year association with Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin team having ended in October.

"He is determined to come back and get into the rhythm of riding on a more regular basis than he has been recently," said his solicitor, who has spoken regularly with the jockey in recent weeks.

"I think it was his intention, prior to all these recent events, to come back and win the jockeys' championship when he knew he was going to be leaving Godolphin.

"He will be riding for many owners and trainers, hopefully, when he gets back. Most trainers would want Frankie Dettori riding their horses. He's as good as ever."

After the ban was imposed on Tuesday, Dettori was rated a 100-1 chance with bookmakers to win the 2013 title, although current champion Richard Hughes triumphed despite a suspension earlier in the season.

Hughes was given a 50-day ban by stewards in India after being found not to have followed a trainer's instructions.

He was unable to ride in Britain until 30 April, but claimed his first championship with 171 winners, 40 ahead of nearest rival Silvestre de Sousa.

Stewart-Moore said Dettori would still be able to ride out for trainers on the gallops during his ban.

"I'm sure he will use the opportunity of riding work to keep himself fit," he said.

Dettori will be 42 when his suspension ends, but his solicitor believes age will not be an issue.

"It is relatively young for a jockey to be coming back and he should have a good few more years left in his career," he said.

"He has no problems with his weight, which is a great plus for him."

Dettori, who made history by riding all seven winners on one card at Ascot in 1996, was quoted by the Daily Star newspaperexternal-link as saying the failed drugs test followed "one night of madness with friends."

The jockey said he felt low after his position with the Godolphin team was threatened by the arrival of younger jockeys.

"Watching someone else riding my horses wasn't a thing I was used to. I want to be the number one car. I don't want to be a second driver," he said.

"It doesn't matter what I took or how much. What I can say is it didn't make me ride any better or make my horse run any faster."

Dettori has won 110 races at the top Group or Grade One level, including 14 British Classics, and is also a three-time winner of France's prestigious Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe, on Lammtarra in 1995, Sakhee in 2001 and Marienbard the following year.

Several top trainers, including Mark Johnston, said they would use him again.

"I'm sure he is enduring a considerable amount of shame and personal embarrassment, but at the same time I'm sure he will bounce back," he said.

The substance for which he has incurred the ban, discovered after a test at Longchamp racecourse, has not been disclosed by France Galop on grounds of "medical confidentiality", although Dettori's solicitor said it was not a performance-enhancing drug.

Dettori, who was given a police caution in 1993 for the possession of a small amount of cocaine in London, is not the first rider to breach the French rules.

Six-time champion jockey Kieren Fallon was banned for six months by France Galop in 2006 and then suspended for a further 18 months after a second positive drugs test in August 2007.

Dettori will have to provide fresh samples to a doctor authorised by the French medical commission next April before his suspension can be lifted.