Frankie Dettori will bid to give the Aga Khan a remarkable sixth Derby success following the news that he has been booked to partner Irish trainer Dermot Weld’s Hazapour in the Investec Derby at Epsom on June 2.
It is thirty years since Dettori first rode for one of the all-time great owner-breeders as a raw 17-year-old, and twelve years since he last donned the famous green and red silks that have been carried to Derby victory by legends of the turf such as Shergar (1981), Shahrastani (1986), Kahyasi (1988), Sinndar (2000) and most recently Harzand (2016).
The big-race ride has come the Italian star’s way as Weld’s stable jockey, Irish champion Pat Smullen, is currently undergoing treatment for cancer.
Hazapour, a son of Shamardal, beat Aidan O’Brien’s decent Hunting Horn in a Galway maiden last September before going on to finish third in the Group 3 Eyrefield Stakes at Leopardstown in late-October.
He made a fine seasonal reappearance beating the useful Ballydoyle colt Delano Roosevelt by three-quarters-of-a-length in the Group 3 Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial back at Leopardstown earlier this month, a race that has often proved a stepping stone for top-class horses of the future.
“I’m very excited, but my thoughts go out to Pat Smullen,” said Dettori. “I’ve got the ride in unfortunate circumstances. I know Pat very well and he is a good friend of mine. We’ve been keeping in touch and I’m sure he will give me help about the horse.
“It’s a great honour to ride for the Aga Khan. He is steeped in history with the race and has so many good memories. It is a great honour to wear his colours. He is a nice horse coming into the race and he put in a good performance in the Derby Trial at Leopardstown.”
“Frankie has ridden for me a few times in the past,” explained Weld, who at the age of 67 landed his first ever Derby two years ago with Harzand. “With our retained jockey Pat Smullen sadly out of action, we don’t have a retained jockey and we decided Frankie was the obvious man to go for because of all his Epsom experience.”
Dettori’s presence in the saddle on Hazapour could well result in market plunge on the day of the race as the world’s most popular jockey always attracts support from once-a-year punters. Hazapour is currently a 16/1 shot with Paddy Power for the mile-and-a-half Classic. 2000 Guineas hero Saxon Warrior is a top priced 4/5 favourite with BetStars.