Dettori hot choice to partner Ouija
Regular jockey Fallon to miss the ride on top British filly
Frankie Dettori should give the Hong Kong Jockey Club a promoter's dream for the Audemars Piguet Queen Elizabeth Cup on April 23 following news that he's almost certain to be engaged for champion British filly Ouija Board.
Kieren Fallon, who won the Hong Kong Vase on Ouija Board in December, will be required in his capacity as first jockey for Aidan O'Brien's Ballydoyle stables in Ireland that day, and Dettori (pictured) is a short-priced favourite to take over from him.
In the unlikely event that Dettori does not take the mount, Jamie Spencer is understood to be the next jockey in line.
As the winner of a Hong Kong International Race in December, the Ed Dunlop-trained Ouija Board will be shooting for a $1 million bonus on top of the advertised stake, where the winner gets 57 per cent of $14 million.
Dettori is the retained jockey for the globetrotting Godolphin organisation, and their racing manager Simon Crisford has confirmed the Italian jockey's availability.
'We will have no runner in the race and won't have any runners that day. The horses will be shipping back to England that weekend and Frankie won't be required for Godolphin,' Crisford said.
Dettori had the mount on Ouija Board when she bounced back to winning form in the Princess Royal Stakes at Newmarket last September.
The chance to get back on Ouija Board is likely to be eagerly grabbed by Dettori, who could hardly contain his excitement after partnering her to that 21/2-length success - her last run before her Vase triumph under Fallon.
At that time Dettori said: 'She felt awesome going to post. All credit to Ed Dunlop for bringing her back. She's special, she can now go for any target. She gave me a fantastic feel and I was very taken with her.'
This year's edition of the QEII will also be the 10th anniversary of Dettori's win on Overbury (1996), trained by Saeed bin Suroor for Godolphin. Dettori is one of the world's most popular jockeys and is always a major attraction to local fans when he rides in Hong Kong.
On this occasion, however, the Jockey Club looks to be blessed by having the other rider with the 'star quality' - Christophe Soumillon - back in town to ride leading local hope Viva Pataca.
Less pleasing for the club was yesterday's news that Alexander Goldrun will abdicate from her intended QEII assignment.
Jockey Club international racing manager Mark Player said he had spoken with a disappointed trainer Jim Bolger yesterday.
'I know Jim is genuinely disappointed, but he believes he will run out of time to have her at her peak for the race,' Player said.
'She just hasn't had sufficient time to recover from her race in Dubai [March 25] and the travel back home to Ireland. However, on a more positive note, Jim did stress his intention to come back with her in December to try and win a second Hong Kong Cup.'
The Jockey Club will now call up one of the horses that have been placed on stand-by, but no announcement has yet been made.