Frankie Dettori rides John Leeper in Saturday’s Epsom Derby, with expected mount High Definition heading to the Irish Derby later this month; Adam Kirby had been lined-up to ride Ed Dunlop’s contender but instead is on board Adayar
Frankie Dettori says his Derby ride John Leeper is full of potential and he predicts “less traffic problems” in this year’s renewal of the Epsom Classic.
Dettori takes the ride of Ed Dunlop’s contender, a general 13-2 shot for Saturday’s race, who is named after the trainer’s late father, himself a two-time Derby-winning trainer.
Long-time ante-post favourite High Definition had been the expected mount for Dettori, but Aidan O’Brien’s horse is instead going to the Irish Derby later this month.
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Adam Kirby was lined up to ride John Leeper but has been replaced by two-time Derby winner Dettori, who is looking forward to getting on board.
Dettori told Sky Sports Racing: “I’ve been watching the horse, he’s got good potential. I rode him yesterday and this morning and I’m looking forward to it.
“I used to ride the mother, Snow Fairy, she was an amazing filly. I’m excited and fingers crossed it goes well.”
On the horse’s emotional background, Dettori added: “John Dunlop was a great man. My father rode for him, I rode for him as well, an amazingly successful trainer. He’s very well named.”
O’Brien has just one Derby contender, the first time that has happened since 2004, but saddles the favourite Bolshoi Ballet in a field of 12.
“Sometimes we have big fields but half of those should not be in the race,” Dettori said. “This year it’s 12 runners, very selective but most of the good ones are there.
“It will be interesting because there will be less traffic problems to worry about. You’ve got to be on your wits and make sure you get a tactical ride.”
A crowd of 4,000 returns to Epsom Downs this year after last season’s renewal was held behind closed doors.
Despite the limited numbers, there would still be a roar if 50-year-old Dettori crosses the line first to win his third Derby.
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“4,000 is better than no one but in a usual Derby year we could have 100,000 with the Downs full,” Dettori said.
“It will make it better than last year. I’m pleased that at least we have someone to cheer us on.
“Who would have thought as a 50-year-old, I’ve still got a ride in the Derby that’s got a chance. I’m very lucky.
“I’m not thinking of stopping at all. Just carry on and try to get this job done this weekend.”