Dr Devious in the Derby was one that got away for Frankie Dettori
Dettori, for so long the pin-up boy of racing, finally confirmed on Saturday what he had hinted at numerous times this summer, announcing his retirement from the saddle for late 2023.
Chapple-Hyam has always been one of Dettori’s biggest supporters and was instrumental in propelling him to superstardom early in his career.
He is responsible for giving Dettori his first Derby winner at the 15th attempt, with the popular Italian steering that entitled him to success at the 2007 Epsom Classic.
But he always jokes that he could have doubled his tally since John Reid was the beneficiary when he met Chapple-Hyam-trained Dr. Devious worked together.
“People forget that before John Reid came along, Frankie was pretty much my stable jockey when he was just out of his entitlement,” the Newmarket handler said.
“I always told him that if he hadn’t gone to a man named Sheikh Mohammed he would have ridden (for me) two Derby winners.
“Of course I tease him about it anyway. When he came to me and said that Sheikh Mohammed had offered him a job, I said, ‘Who is that?’
“I was only joking but added: ‘I think with my 35 horses and his 350 I would go there if I were you!’. I asked him to get me a job there but he didn’t come back!”
Chapple-Hyam believes there is still plenty of drama left in the final act of the beloved Dettori’s career and is grateful that the announcement of his retirement now gives his fans ample time to see him next summer.
“He’s not ready yet. There are still many chapters to be written for Frankie because he’s such a good jockey,” Chapple-Hyam said.
“If you had a big race and were lucky enough to catch him, you just let him do it – you didn’t give him any orders.
“He knew what to do. It was my pleasure to let him ride for you. They wouldn’t put him on one of the last at Newmarket on a Friday night or so, but in a Group One there wasn’t anyone better.
He added: “The time has come for him. He’s 52, but it’s good that we can celebrate him. It wasn’t meant to be an obituary – he didn’t die.
“It’s great that he can do a farewell tour. He was a great ambassador for the sport.”
Dettori has had a glittering and at times checkered career, and Chapple-Hyam says his often-social antics can rub some the wrong way.
“The thing about Frankie is you either love him or hate him,” the coach added. “Some people say he shouldn’t behave the way he does. (Willie) Carson was like that – and I was a big fan of Willie’s. Racing needs to have these great personalities.”
Dettori took over the baton from Carson as racing’s biggest, brightest star, long before his “Magnificent Seven”.
He was already Jockey Champion when he went through the chart at Ascot on 28th September 1996 winning all seven races including the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes with Mark Of Esteem.
Yet this special day of racing has garnered worldwide notoriety, and Dettori has subsequently rarely been challenged as the sport’s greatest attraction.
Thankfully, Dettori will not be lost to the sport once his equestrian career ends, and Chapple-Hyam insists other personalities will emerge.
“Hopefully there won’t be a big gap because there are some good young guys coming up,” he added. “But it’s good that we can celebrate him next summer – he’s been and remains a brilliant jockey for a long time.”