Double success for Dettori at Epsom and now he's favourite for the Derby

Italian will ride John Gosden's Arrest in Saturday's £1.5 million showpiece

Frankie Dettori on Soul Sister celebrates after winning the Betfred Oaks at Epsom (Reuters via Beat Media Group subscription)
Frankie Dettori on Soul Sister celebrates after winning the Betfred Oaks at Epsom (Reuters via Beat Media Group subscription)

By James Toney at Epsom

Showman Frankie Dettori has obviously taken to heart that old theatre saying of leaving the audience wanting more.

The bigger stage the better for evergreen Dettori, who will call time on his storied career at the end of this season.

While many forever associate him with Ascot - where he famously rode seven winners in an afternoon and has 73 winners and counting in the royal meeting - it's Epsom he truly loves most.

And not content with winning one big race on his final appearance here, he won two on the opening day of the Derby Festival.

First he scored in the Coronation Cup on Emily Upjohn, 12 months after she stumbled out the stalls and improbably rallied to lose in a photo finish in Oaks.

Then he delivered Soul Sister brilliantly to claim the Betfred Oaks, his second Classic of the year and his seventh success in the fillies' showpiece.

"That means a lot to win a seventh Oaks," said Dettori.

"That's a second Classic this season, that's just unbelievable and just beyond my wildest dreams. I just want to soak it in now as I know these moments won't come again.

"The race was a bit messy at the beginning and I had to take her a bit wide but she just did the rest."

Dettori's record in the Derby - two wins from 27 starts - has been an occasional source of frustration to the 52-year-old Italian, who took 14 spins around Epsom's thundering rollercoaster before banking his first winner.

However, few things move the betting exchanges like a 'Frankie Surge' and the oddsmakers are running for the Surrey Hills, Arrest, Dettori's final Derby hope, now heading the market for Saturday's £1.5m showpiece.

If you believe in the saying that sport is all about momentum, it's hard not to get swept along in the feel-good story, even if John Gosden, Arrest's trainer, has made no secret he's worried about the rattling fast ground and would like the clerk of the course to 'water for the next eight hours'.

"Winning the Derby tomorrow, can you just imagine it, I don't think I'm going to sleep much tonight," added Dettori.

Dettori's successful late career partnership with Gosden soured last year, Emily Upjohn's Oaks near miss was then followed by a Royal Ascot to initially forget, the handler even issuing an unusual rebuke about his riding tactics.

He later dropped him from a series of high-profile rides, including the farewell appearance at Glorious Goodwood for Dettori's much-loved three-time Gold Cup winner Stradivarius, a decision friends say stung the Italian badly.

However, it was all smiles at Epsom today, Dettori with a trademark cheeky grin and flying dismount, enjoying every moment of this last hurrah in front of packed stands.

"This is a game of ups and downs isn't it," joked Gosden.

"Frankie gave her a lovely run and he's shown a lot of class to win that. When he's a top of his game, there has never been a better jockey. He's an international class rider, he can win anywhere in the world, he's absolutely untouched in that department.

"He's in great form and when plan A didn't work here, he got working on plan B and rode her with total confidence."