Frankie . . . I was wrong!!
In my preview of The Derby I suggested Authorized would not win the race because he was being ridden by Frankie Dettori. My reasoning behind the suggestion is that Frankie, being Italian, is true to his upbringing and he exudes a Latin temperament. It is an accepted fact that the anxiety of a jockey is transmitted to the horse he is riding, so if the jockey is tense and on edge this will pass to the horse who, in turn, will become tense and on edge. With all the pressure and media hype I thought that Dettori would himself be so stress that the horse himself would also boil over. Indeed who could have blamed Dettori had the pressure got to him.
Watching the pair go down to the start I knew they were bound for their date with destiny. The Italian was at his most relaxed, laughing and joking with fellow jockeys and spectators alike, this was in contrast to his demeanour at previous runnings of The Derby where he appeared tense and detached.
It is hard to imagine just how much pressure top sportsmen are under in the build up to major sporting events. Foe the week building up to the race Dettori was constantly in the company of the press and TV, add to that the stress of his son being rushed to hospital on the Thursday before the race any man would have been forgiven for cracking under the pressure.
He has been criticised for uttering an expletive on live television after the race … he has nothing to apologise for. I also fail to see why poor Jim McGrath had to make an on-air apology on Dettori’s behalf either. If such an expletive was broadcast it is entirely the BBC’s fault …. what were they doing following him with a camera into the weighing room anyway? The guy deserved some privacy.
In the BBC’s defence I am pleased to see they resisted the temptation to thrust a microphone into Dettori’s face as soon as he pulled up or was walking back to the winners circle. This trend is something that Channel 4 have taken to an art form. It puts jockeys in an awkward position and I am waiting for the day when Tommo or one of his colleagues thrusts a microphone in the face of a winning jockey and is told in no uncertain terms to ‘eff off.
By all means interview a jockey after the race, but it should be after he has spoken to the connections first, after all it is them who pay his wages, not Channel 4. If the connections do not want the jockey to discuss the race with the media that is their choice, currently jockeys are being put in a difficult position.
John McCririck is often lampooned for his boorish style and approach, however he does have another side and is a very good, award winning, journalist. On the Monday evening after the Derby he interviewed Dettori for At The Races and it was masterclass in sensitive interviewing. It is a shame the interview did not reach a wider audience. In it Dettori talked openly and frankly about the pressures he faced in the lead up to the big race. McCririck let Dettori do the talking and did not try to score points like some interviewers. It certainly left me with a better understanding of the pressures added to our sporting heroes by the massive media interest.
Another bonus of Dettori being a double Derby winner is that it had helped my punting become more profitable. This week has seen a new Dettori bandwagon develop with many of his rides going off at shorter odds than they deserve, this consequently means that other horses which would possibly have started favourite have gone off at longer odds than one would expect … so by opposing some of Dettori’s rides this week I have managed to get some better priced winners than I expected.
Sorry Frankie I was wrong, well done, go and open another bottle of ‘effing bubbly.
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