Funny how it’s always France: first Fallon, now it looks like Dettori. There was Dean Gallagher too. Maybe it’s just coincidence, maybe. A peep at the testing regime here and in Britain might be no harm. But right now the focus is resolutely on Frankie and France-Galop.
Tomorrow’s disciplinary hearing could result in little more than a slap on the wrist for chugging too much of a cough bottle. After all the precise nature of Dettori’s positive drug test has yet to be confirmed. But the consensus seems to be it is cocaine.
If that is the case there will be plenty of negative headlines about the world’s most famous jockey, something that will probably provoke further jibes about how racing has its very own “Lance.”
And there’s no question Dettori was completely offside if he took an illegal substance, although it’s interesting to note that if he’d failed a breathalyser, indignant proclamations about the Italian’s supposed position as a role model wouldn’t be a fraction as strident.
Certainly the placing of Dettori’s name alongside Lance Armstrong is ludicrous. Armstrong systematically cheated for years with performance enhancing dope. If indeed it is cocaine, the only person Dettori has really cheated is himself.
Most of all there will be intense personal disappointment and embarrassment for one man and his family, should France-Galop impose a six month ban.
Concerns about the potential impact on racing’s image are very much secondary to that, although not irrelevant.
But when it comes to image, Dettori’s most vocal critics might also consider some of the shenanigans regularly performed out on-track by those with supposedly pristine public credentials rather than focussing so much on an individual’s personal issues.
It has been suggested the positive test was a result of an aberration by the jockey, and is not part of a bigger and darker picture. Hopefully that is the case.
It certainly isn’t hard to imagine a scenario where a day after watching Encke win the Leger under Barzalona, Dettori went to Arc Trials Day at Longchamp feeling low.
Jockeys as a breed are often volatile personalities. The pressures of making weight can produce hair-trigger temperaments. And disappointment and anger can produce stupid decisions.
Here’s still hoping Frankie didn’t produce one of those stupid decisions in September. Talk about a six month suspension effectively ending the career of one of the most gifted people ever to sit on a horse is depressing beyond belief.
There was nothing stupid about the stewards decision at Dundalk on Friday night to place Balmont Flyer ahead of First Friday. It was controversial maybe, but a perfectly valid case can be made for them having got it right. And a valid case can probably be made the other way too.
As it happens, with just a nose in it at the line, the balance tilts marginally on the right call being made. First Friday did drift noticeably right. But what’s important is the old ‘C’ word – consistency.
If jockeys know for definite what’s on, and what isn’t, they will adjust their behaviour accordingly. The credibility problems come when the rule book is open to different interpretations from track to track and panel to panel.
No one can know for certain what would have happened in the Morgiana had Go Native not crashed out at the last but this corner’s view was that Hurricane Fly had just about got him off it.
As it was beating Captain Cee Bee by a dozen lengths is nothing Hurricane Fly shouldn’t be able to do. But he did appear to look more of the real-deal that he was during the 2010-11 season. Making the running was hardly ideal, and it was a messy race, but the Fly looks on the way back.