Dettori is the punters' favourite to steal Whyte's trophy 'The King has abdicated - long live the King!' That will be the cry from punters at Happy Valley tonight after they made superstar Frankie Dettori an overwhelming favourite to take the prize in the sixth International Jockeys' Championship. Dettori has two clear favourites in early betting on the Valley meeting in Champion Speed and French Connection and a win by either and a placing from the other could be enough to sneak him home in the coveted series. The Jockey Club says this will be the best championship yet contested and it's hard to disagree. All the previous winners are there in Whyte, Dettori, Andrasch Starke and Olivier Peslier, and you can throw in another seven stars who will be doing their darnedest to make it tough for them. But Happy Valley has its own special magic and an ounce of luck will be worth a pound of skill. Reigning Hong Kong champion jockey Douglas Whyte was always in the driver's seat last year after drawing just one favourite and earning points with his other rides, but the South African has all but conceded the series to Dettori this year. If the punters have it right, Frankie should have the series in his sights after the first-leg ride on David Oughton-trained Champion Speed. The gelding raced well over the Happy Valley 1,650m at his first two runs this season then found the wide gate and an on-pace tempo against him at Sha Tin last start before rocketing home in the race won by First Knight. Although Champion Speed has again drawn closer to the outside than inside, the race looks to have plenty of speed with the likes of Flying Kenny, Smart Win, Eternal Start and Dragon Win. Dettori can camp back in the field and unleash the son of Danehill just when it counts to put away his rivals in the final 100 metres and snatch maximum points for the series lead. In the second leg, Dettori rides Cherished for David Hill. Cherished has tended to put his best foot forward over the 1,800-metre trip at the Valley in the past, but the gelding can mix his form and looks the weakest of Dettori's rides on the strength of his latest firm-ground run at Sha Tin. However, with gate one Frankie will be hugging the fence and looking to earn valuable minor points at least to take him into the final leg with a defendable lead. Punters overnight have made Dennis Yip Chor-hong's French Connection a firm favourite in the sixth to give Dettori the trophy and the cheque for $200,000 although he can expect strong opposition in the betting and in the race from Smart Champion. French Connection failed by a nose to beat the flying Mighty Hugo over 1,800 metres last time out, but is an on-pace horse who comes back to the 1,650 metres journey where most of his best form has been displayed. Smart Champion has raced just four times for three placings and a last-start win at Sha Tin when he overcame difficulties in the run for his apprentice rider after missing the start. British ace Kieren Fallon won't be giving the same sort of concessions on Smart Champion tonight. And waiting in the wings are the runners-up from the past two championships, Australia's Damien Oliver and Hong Kong-based New Zealander Shane Dye. Oliver has strong chances on Ace Academy in the first leg where he takes over from regular rider Dye and on short-priced favourite Zerubbabel for Tony Cruz in Race Four and he could have settled the game well in advance of his weakest link on Kindred Spirits in the sixth. Dye was quick to discount himself as a chance in the championship this year, but Brave Commander (Race Three) and Money Strong (Race Six) will both give plenty of cheek. Dye can be right in contention on the latter if Country Dragon earns some minor points in the middle leg.