The case of Frankie Dettori's positive test will take a step forward when a hearing is held in Paris on Tuesday but the jockey may have to wait for an answer to the questions which, presumably, have weighed heavily on him over the past week: whether he will be banned and, if so, for how long? The hearing, scheduled for 11am GMT, involves France-Galop's medical commission, which will determine how much of the banned substance was actually discovered in Dettori's system by a sample taken when he rode at Longchamp on 16 September.
Having reached a decision, the commission has the option to file a report to France-Galop, the body which runs French racing. If it opts not to do so, the matter will end there. If a report is filed, France-Galop will convene a meeting of stewards to consider what disciplinary action would be appropriate. Normally that would take a matter of days to arrange, though there has been a suggestion that both hearings could be arranged for Tuesday in order to bring a controversial matter to a quick conclusion.
As is its usual policy in such matters, France-Galop has made limited comment since the news of Dettori's positive test was broken last Tuesday by the jockey's solicitor. Notably the identity of the substance in question has not been confirmed. A long list of substances is banned under French rules, including some that would be produced by over-the-counter medicines, although the discovery of those less significant substances would not typically require a formal hearing.
In a worst-case scenario Dettori might be facing a ban of six months, like the one meted out to Kieren Fallon in November 2006 after the first of the two positive tests the Irishman has returned while riding in France. Dettori would have the right to appeal against such a decision.
For the second consecutive day Nicky Henderson took the wraps off a promising new chaser when his Broadbackbob won a novice chase at Plumpton. The seven-year-old, who beat Cinders And Ashes when the pair made their hurdling debuts at Ascot last year, was ungainly at some early fences but his jumping improved dramatically as the pace lifted on the final circuit.
Henderson assistant, Charlie Morlock, said Broadbackbob had been taken to the course in order to be eligible for the £60,000 bonus offered to winners of designated Plumpton novice chases if they can follow up in a chase at the next Cheltenham Festival. The yard is waiting for the right opportunity to start Simonsig, another highly talented hurdler, over fences.
Barry Geraghty, the winning rider, was pleased with Broadbackbob's performance and said jockey error was responsible for some of the early mistakes. He explained that the horse had surprised him with the length of his stride when asked to stretch and had carried him in too close to one or two fences. "When we turned up the revs, he enjoyed that," Geraghty added. "He's strong, physical. He's not a massive horse but he's a good size, he's scopey and he's accurate."
Geraghty said he had been to Henderson's yard that morning to school the Hennessy contender Bobs Worth as well as Finian's Rainbow, who will run at Ascot on Saturday. He appeared pleased with both.
Henderson's Long Run heads the nine remaining entrants for Saturday's Betfair Chase at Haydock. The others include Imperial Commander, Silviniaco Conti and The Giant Bolster. Tidal Bay is entered but thought more likely to contest the following week's Hennessy.
Professor Tim Morris is to leave the British Horseracing Authority in January, becoming the latest big name to be axed as the sport's ruling body continues to restructure and cut costs. The director of equine science and welfare will follow hard on the heels of Paul Scotney, the integrity director, whose departure was announced 11 days earlier.
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