It’s been 24 years since Frankie Dettori first attempted to win the Melbourne Cup aboard English raider Drum Taps and now he has a live chance on 2016 winner Almandin.
The first Tuesday in November has been far from a happy hunting ground for Dettori though.
The star Italian jockey has made the trip often but has only finished in the placings twice, with two seconds.
In 2015, he caused interference as he desperately tried to get Max Dynamite first past the post, only to come up half a length short behind $101 chance Prince of Penzance.
The only other time was in 1999 when he was second on Godolphin raider Central Park, who was passed in the shadows of the post by the John Marshall-ridden Rogan Josh to give Bart Cummings his 11th Melbourne Cup.
Still it didn’t take long for trainer Robert Hickmott and owner Lloyd Williams to engage Dettori once Damien Oliver lost his appeal over an improper riding ban that has ruined his Cup carnival.
And while Dettori feels for Oliver, he’s excited to pilot the defending champion and current $7 equal favourite.
“I have been trying for so many years to win the Melbourne Cup, with my first attempt in 1993; that’s almost 25 years,” Dettori wrote in his column for betting site Ladbrokes.
“Obviously I am very grateful that I have the ride on Almandin, although it was in difficult circumstances. I am very sad for Damien Oliver.
“I have been good friends with Lloyd Williams for over 20 years now and he takes me under his wing every time I come to Australia. My wife’s mum is Australian and her father is a New Zealander so this means a lot to the family. It is one of the biggest races worldwide after all.
“There are 24 runners and it is a top race but you know this horse has a great chance and he comes here with a great profile.”
Almandin has also been in good form this spring, running second to Pacodali on return over 2040 metres at Moonee Valley before winning the JRA Trophy and finishing fourth in the Bart Cummings (both at Flemington), carrying over 60 kilograms in each race.
Dettori won’t ride in Australia before Cup day as he will be in the US riding English horse Ulysses in the Breeders’ Cup on Saturday but believes the travel won’t be a problem.
“Jet lag won’t be a problem. I have done it (for) 20 years and know exactly what to do,” he wrote.
Oliver’s suspension, for causing interference during the Cox Plate and shifting in aboard Happy Clapper on to Royal Symphony, began on Monday and runs until November 16.