For a long time fate seemed determined to conspire against Frankie Dettori in the Epsom Derby.
The sport’s most recognisable face, in flat racing’s pre-eminent race, Dettori tried and failed 14 times to land the spoils in the Epsom spectacular.
Finally, in 2007, the racing gods aligned for the affable Italian when he got the leg up on the Peter Chapple-Hyam trained Authorized.
Despite the presence of an army of Aiden O’Brien trained talent from Ballydoyle – he trained a scarcely believable eight of the 17 runners that entered the starting stalls – Dettori’s mount was the red hot 5/4 favourite to seal Classic success.
Rarely has Epsom been so focused on victory for one horse and one rider on Derby Day – like the great AP McCoy’s obsessive quest to win the Grand National, Dettori’s destiny had become something of a public obsession.
On the day, Authorized was much too strong, ranging up alongside the front rank to scoot five lengths clear at the winning post and spark joyous scenes for Frankie and his legion of followers and backers on the day.
Eight years on and it looks very much like Dettori is about to get his leg up on another red hot Derby horse. When Jack Hobbs was run down in dominant fashion by his stablemate Golden Horn from the John Gosden yard in the Dante at York, Dettori did little to hide his disappointment.
However, the landscape has now changed dramatically.
Jack Hobbs has been snapped up by Dettori’s former employers at Godolphin ensuring that the Italian’s services would not be required on Derby Day; with William Buick now down to ride that particular Gosden hopeful.
Far from being a blow to Dettori, it has turned things in his favour.
Golden Horn’s owner, Anthony Oppenheimer, quickly identified Dettori as the man to take over in the saddle at Epsom.
Now they will be partners in crime on the Downs.
Can Frankie double-up and add a second Derby success at the age of 44? On the face of it, Golden Horn’s credentials are just as strong as those of Authorized eight years ago.
So breathtaking was his Dante victory at York, Golden Horn plastered his name all over the market.
Even before his owner committed the £75,000 required to supplement his colt into the race, Golden Horn was catapulted to the top of the Derby betting, such was the manner and visual impression of his victory at York.
After winning a maiden at Nottingham over a mile, he took the step up in trip and into Listed company in his stride by winning at Newmarket over 1m1f to conclude his juvenile year.
The Dante was easily his most impressive and polished performance so far.
He travelled supremely and picked off the promising Jack Hobbs as well as Group 1 winner Elm Park in the manner of a very smart colt.
Gosden was fulsome in his praise afterwards and despite declaring that connections felt that he was destined to be a mile-and-a-quarter horse, they clearly feel he has the scope for 1m4f around Epsom.
Could it be that fate has dealt Dettori another winning hand in the biggest flat race in the British calendar?
Dettori admitted recently that in the lead up to riding Authorized at Epsom, he endured quite a few sleepless nights – playing out what might unfold in a race that had become a preoccupation for him.
Now, says Frankie, he is more relaxed and ready to seize his best chance of victory since.