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

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

  • Dettori replaced Kirby on Dunlop-trained John Leeper in the Cazoo Derby
  • Thursday the jockey was introduced to his mount for the first time
  • Dettori triumphed over Authorized in 2007 and Golden Horn in 2015

Frankie Dettori has said the late call to ride Ed Dunlop-trained John Leeper in Saturday’s Cazoo Derby at Epsom was an ‘offer he couldn’t refuse’, despite sympathizing with the retired rider Adam Kirby.

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

Kirby will still have a Derby ride now booked for Charlie Appleby-trained outsider Adayar, a switch that leaves champion jockey Oisin Murphy sitting in the weigh-in 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 Jan Leeper. 7 Mac Swiney, Mohaafeth. 8 hurricane lane. 12 Third Reich. 20 Southern Lights. 25 One ruler. 33 Adayar. Youth Spirit. 40 Get ready. 100 Mojo Star.

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

Dettori, who will ride his 26th Derby at the age of 50, said: “Ed called me two weeks ago for the John Leeper ride but I turned it down and said I should give Aidan my first pick.

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

“He was quite shocked, but understood. Then it all started. I was told that Aidan would only have one runner and was asked if I would like to ride his son Joseph’s Southern Lights.

“Five minutes later the Dunlop team called me and told me that Mrs. Patino would like me to ride her horse. I said I had to work it out with Aidan.

Dettori replaces Adam Kirby on Ed Dunlop-trained John Leeper in Saturday's classic

Dettori replaces Adam Kirby on Ed Dunlop-trained John Leeper in Saturday's classic

Dettori replaces Adam Kirby on Ed Dunlop-trained John Leeper in Saturday’s classic

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

“I was in that position when I was younger. Pat Eddery often drove me crazy when I was with Luca Cumani!

“But Mrs. Patino has been an old friend since she rode Snow Fairy to win the Irish Champion Stakes and finished third to her in the Arc. My job description is jockey and that’s what I do. If the owner wants me, I am obliged to do what they ask of me.’

Dettori has been given the biggest draw possible in what he thinks is an ultra-competitive 12-runner lineup for the £1.125 million Classic.

The Italian added: “I’ve raced in over 20 derbies and I’d rather be pulled high than low. If you gave me the choice between one or twelve, I’d take twelve every day.’

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

Martyn Meade’s Lone Eagle was the only unexpected pullout yesterday, with John Leeper reaching the second favorite of 13-2 with some bookmakers.

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

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

“Obviously (favorite) Santa Barbara must be a different class at home because they keep talking about her, but Epsom is a complicated number. A lot depends on which filly handles it.’

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