Dettori and Coolmore: not only is it intriguing, it’s also understandable. Camelot mightn’t have won the Arc but the sounds of satisfaction in Tipperary at having rubbed Godolphin’s eye in it by nicking their jockey for the day will nevertheless have reverberated all the way to Dubai. Most of all, though, the idea of Dettori and Coolmore makes sense.
Once the initial one-upmanship satisfaction has gone, rather more practical reasons for John Magnier & Co getting Frankie on board will become obvious. And the most obvious of all is that a motivated Dettori remains the most gifted jockey of his generation.
Recently both Piggott and Eddery have publicly stated they believe Dettori to stand alone in terms of current weigh-room talent. They filled the No. 1 role at Ballydoyle with distinction. So did Kinane, Fallon and Murtagh, all headline acts.
It’s no coincidence the best jockeys have filled that position. Ever since the days of Vincent O’Brien, the Ballydoyle/Coolmore ethos has been to concentrate on the best, whether in terms of horse breeding, or the people around them.
Since the role of jockey is vital in that final all-important racecourse test, making sure they had the best on their side wasn’t so much a choice as a necessity. Mistakes are always made but are usually easier to handle when there is an absence of excuses. And the real top-notchers tend not to make mistakes when it counts most.
Joseph O’Brien has been a revelation in the last couple of seasons and is a young jockey of real substance. However he remains far from the finished article and weight issues mean he may not get the time to become so.
Not being able to ride a triple-classic winner in an Arc might be tolerated once by the powers at Coolmore but it isn’t a realistic long-term option.
Neither it appears can be Dettori remaining at Godolphin. Sending the Sheikh a text that he was just happening to take the ride on the arch-enemy’s most high-profile horse was hardly a move Dettori took without imagining the impact.
The Sheikh’s ability to hold a grudge is well-known. Dettori’s willingness to hold his tongue about this year’s riding arrangements for the boys-in-blue was admirable, but never likely to last. His decision to take the Camelot ride spoke louder than any words could.
So it doesn’t take a psychic to envisage a situation where the world’s most successful bloodstock operation are on the lookout for a jockey and the standout name available happens to be L Dettori.
For the Italian it would be a role to relish. It would definitely be a new challenge for a personality that has often looked jaded and nearly disinterested during recent years. Travel wouldn’t be an issue and it’s not hard to imagine Magnier & Co agreeing to a deal where Dettori wouldn’t have to travel over for mundane meetings at Tipperary or Navan.
And for Coolmore, it would be true to their ethos of leaving no stone unturned in their remorseless pursuit for success. They would have their x-factor jockey again. In many ways, it’s a perfect fit. And in other ways, it might just be wishful thinking. The finding out will be fascinating.
As for the Arc itself, John Gosden’s line that it was “specialist ground” seems to sum it up. Holding ground at Longchamp doesn’t so much hold as takes a grip and refuses to let go.
Kudos to anyone who backed Solemia, although her name was largely a mystery to most of us beforehand. And hard luck to Orfevre supporters. He is clearly a real talent but also quirky. Some have suggested he ran out of stamina. But that’s wishful thinking. He ran out of something to run at.
What wouldn’t the Arc contenders have given for ground similar to what was available at Gowran where Sizing Europe returned to action with a bang. When this horse has his eye in he really is a joy to behold.
He is a prospect to make the approaching winter seem not quite so chilly.