Frankie Dettori reveals he couldn’t turn down the chance to ride John Leeper in the Derby


Frankie Dettori reveals he couldn’t turn down the chance to ride John Leeper in the Derby even after an angry call from discarded rider Adam Kirby

  • Dettori replaced Kirby on Dunlop-trained John Leeper in the Cazoo Derby 
  • The jockey got acquainted with his mount for the first time on Thursday
  • Dettori was victorious on Authorized in 2007 and Golden Horn in 2015

Frankie Dettori has said the late call-up to ride Ed Dunlop-trained John Leeper in Saturday’s Cazoo Derby at Epsom was an ‘offer he could not refuse’, despite having sympathy for discarded rider Adam Kirby.

Dettori, who rode John Leeper’s six-time group one-winning dam Snow Fairy for owner Cristina Patino, got acquainted with his mount for the first time on Thursday.

Kirby will still have a Derby ride having now been booked for Charlie Appleby-trained outsider Adayar, a switch which leaves champion jockey Oisin Murphy sitting in the weighing room.

Frankie Dettori has won the Derby with Authorized in 2007 and Golden Horn (above) in 2015

Frankie Dettori has won the Derby with Authorized in 2007 and Golden Horn (above) in 2015

DERBY BETTING

5-4 Bolshoi Ballet. 13-2 John Leeper. 7 Mac Swiney, Mohaafeth. 8 Hurricane Lane. 12 Third Realm. 20 Southern Lights. 25 One Ruler. 33 Adayar. Youth Spirit. 40 Gear Up. 100 Mojo Star.

Dettori had been expected to ride Aidan O’Brien’s High Definition until the Ballydoyle trainer instigated a jockey merry-go-round with the surprise announcement that Ryan Moore-ridden favourite Bolshoi Ballet would be the only one of his six remaining entries to run.

Dettori, who will be riding in his 26th Derby at the age of 50, said: ‘Ed called me two weeks ago for the ride on John Leeper but I turned it down and said I had to give my first choice to Aidan.

‘He gave me a Dewhurst Stakes winner last year with St Mark’s Basilica and I rode a lot for him because of Covid. He has given me a 1,000 Guineas winner this season with Mother Earth and he had told me he would want my services. I couldn’t commit to Ed.

‘He was quite shocked but understood. Then it all kicked off. I was told Aidan would only have one runner and was asked if I would ride his son Joseph’s Southern Lights.

‘Five minutes later, the Dunlop team called me and told me Mrs Patino would like me to ride her horse. I said I would have to clear it with Aidan.

Dettori will replace Adam Kirby on Ed Dunlop-trained John Leeper in Saturday's Classic

Dettori will replace Adam Kirby on Ed Dunlop-trained John Leeper in Saturday’s Classic

‘I got an angry call from Adam but I told him it was not my fault. I didn’t go looking for the ride, it just came to me. I would have been annoyed as well, I understand his feelings.

‘I have been in that position when I was younger. Pat Eddery jocked me off many a time when I was with Luca Cumani!

‘But Mrs Patino is an old friend since riding Snow Fairy to win the Irish Champion Stakes and finishing third on her in the Arc. My job description is jockey and that is what I do. If the owner wants me I am obliged to do what they ask me to.’

Dettori has been handed the widest possible draw in what he thinks is an ultra-competitive 12-runner line-up for the £1.125million Classic.

The Italian added: ‘I have ridden in over 20 Derbys and I would rather be drawn high than low. If you gave me a choice of one or 12, I would take 12 every day.’

Adayar (one) and Roger Varian’s Lingfield Trial winner Third Realm (two) have statistically tough draws to overcome but Bolshoi Ballet is handily berthed in stall nine.

Martyn Meade’s Lone Eagle was the only unexpected withdrawal yesterday while John Leeper cut to 13-2 second favourite with some bookmakers.

Dettori rides O’Brien-trained second favourite and Musidora Stakes winner Snowfall in the Cazoo Oaks.

Dettori said: ‘It was a great effort in the Musidora, the best Oaks trial in Britain.

‘Obviously (favourite) Santa Barbara must be different class at home because they keep banging on about her but Epsom is a complicated track. A lot depends on which filly handles it.’ 



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