Frankie Dettori was fortunate to avoid injury just days before he is due to ride the Derby favourite when his mount slipped and fell shortly after crossing the line at Leicester on Tuesday. Riding Magillen, the Italian had been beaten a nose in a driving finish to the six-furlong contest and was still travelling at speed a few strides later when the two-year-old beneath him lost his footing.
Ray Cochrane, Dettori’s agent, later confirmed the jockey had not been seriously injured by the incident, which prompted the abandonment of the rest of Leicester’s card. “He twisted his arm a bit but he said he’s fine,” Cochrane reported, adding that Dettori intended to take his only ride at Lingfield on Tuesday night.
Another jockey in the race said his mount’s hoof had missed Dettori’s head by inches, according to an on-course reporter for the At The Races channel. Magillen was reported to be unscathed.
Dettori, who is due to partner the 9-2 shot Wings Of Desire in Saturday’s Derby, might have felt cursed if he had had to miss that ride because of a £4,000 race at Leicester. At the end of 2013 he missed the Arc-winning ride on Treve after breaking an ankle in a fall at Nottingham four days beforehand.
Leicester’s clerk of the course, Jimmy Stevenson, said the slippiness had been caused by rain falling on good to firm ground shortly before the race. “It had just started raining and it’s that first 10 minutes that’s the problem, as always,” he said. “There’s nothing wrong with the ground. It just gets that greasy top on it.”
Rain had also fallen earlier at Epsom, in much larger quantities than had been expected, with the result that a fast surface now appears out of the question for Saturday. Andrew Cooper, the clerk at the Surrey track, reported that 20mm had fallen, four times as much as had been forecast, turning the going to good to soft, soft in places – having been good to firm at daybreak.
“My first impression is that it’s taken it really quite well,” Cooper said. “It didn’t feel like ground you would really call soft.
“I expect it will slowly, steadily improve through the rest of the week. It will generally be dry, cloudy and overcast with possibly bits and pieces of rain, so it’s not drying conditions, but it might be warmer on Saturday.
“On the assumption that it will be mainly dry and using last week as a guide, it could dry out to good going on Friday, maybe on the slow side in places. And then it would probably be good for Saturday.”
That news was welcomed by connections of two Derby entrants whose participation has been dependent on significant rainfall. “I’m delighted to hear they got that,” said Pat Downes, a spokesman for the Aga Khan, whose Harzand has twice won on heavy going.
“He did a bit of work this morning and seems in very good form. If Dermot [Weld] thinks the conditions are fine, we’re ready to go.”
David Simcock, the trainer of Algometer, will have a final discussion about the grey’s participation with his owner on Wednesday but said he was “very keen” to run him. “The one thing we didn’t want was ‘firm’ in the going description,” Simcock said.
“He did a very routine piece of work this morning and it all went very well. He looked in excellent order.”
Harzand was cut to 16-1 from 20s while Algometer is now a 33-1 shot from 40s. US Army Ranger was a notable drifter at the head of the betting from 4-1 to 11-2, leading to speculation that Ryan Moore may choose to ride one of Aidan O’Brien’s six other entries.
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