Frankie Dettori on captaincy duty for inaugural Barney Curley Charity Cup

Italian jockey unable to ride at the Bellewstown track in Meath track due to suspension

It’s hardly normal preparation ahead of Sunday’s Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe but Frankie Dettori finds himself on captaincy duty at Bellewstown on Wednesday.

On the back of his successful visit to the Co Meath track a year ago, Dettori joins Willie Mullins as a captain for the inaugural running of the Barney Curley Charity Cup.

Two teams of half a dozen riders for both Dettori and Mullins will ride in a pair of handicaps for a special jockey’s challenge.

Jamie Spencer and Tom Queally are flying in to ride alongside star local names such as Rachael Blackmore and Colin Keane to raise funds for Direct Aid for Africa (DAFA). The charity was set up by the late Barney Curley in 1996.


A year ago Dettori rode a winner at Bellewstown in another fund-raising event run in memory of his great friend Curley who had died in May. However, a suspension means the hugely popular Italian is on the sidelines alongside Mullins this time.

The pair memorably teamed up for a shock Irish Leger success in 2016 with Wicklow Brave and a year previously they came within an ace of winning the Melbourne Cup with Max Dynamite.

Dettori and Mullins are in rival camps now at a venue perhaps most famous for the Yellow Sam betting coup brought off by Curley in 1975.

Spencer, Queally and Billy Lee are on Dettori’s team while among Mullins’ side are Blackmore, Keane and former champion jockey Declan McDonogh.

Dettori is serving a 14-day suspension and can’t return to action until Sunday’s Arc. With a record six wins in Europe’s biggest all-aged prize already under his belt, the veteran is set to team up with last year’s shock winner Torquator Tasso.

Dettori flew to Germany to ride the German star on Tuesday morning ahead of his duties in Meath at the hill of Crockafotha.

Torquator Tasso is a general 8-1 shot for Sunday’s €5 million highlight with Aidan O’Brien’s Luxembourg tightening his grip at the top of the market on Tuesday.

That’s because last season’s Derby and King George winner Adayar was taken out by Godolphin at the latest acceptance stage. Instead Adayar will target a clash with Baaeed in Ascot’s Champion Stakes.

“Following discussions, it has been decided that Adayar will miss the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe and will instead head to the Champion Stakes at Ascot where conditions are likely to suit him better,” Godolphin tweeted.

Adayar ran fourth to Torquator Tasso in last year’s Arc and followed that up with a fifth to Sealiway in the Champion Stakes. He returned to action as a four-year-old earlier this month with a smooth success in a three horse race at Doncaster.

Adayar’s absence means jockey William Buick has been snapped up for the ride on Mishriff in the Arc.

Trainer John Gosden moved to secure the British champion jockey-elect for his stable stalwart who found ground conditions stickier than ideal when behind Luxembourg in the Irish Champion Stakes.

“The ground was sticky and holding in Ireland and he wasn’t in love with that, but he was doing his best work at the end. He got a little bit out of it, he has won over a mile-and-a-half, he’s won a Prix Du Jockey Club, he’s won on soft ground.

“I’m perfectly aware of the quality of the race but it doesn’t have an outstanding star in it, to that extent a lot of people have been tempted,” Gosden reported on Tuesday.

“He’s pretty experienced, he’s been around the world this horse, we haven’t been frightened wherever he’s run. He’s won Saudi Cups, he’s raced in France, he’s raced in Ireland, he’s raced in England – he’s very international.

“He’s run on dirt, on soft turf, on heavy turf as a two-year-old at Nottingham, and firm ground and sand tracks. He’s a very versatile horse and all being well, he’ll be going to stud in France at the end of the season,” he added.

If Luxembourg is O’Brien’s big hope in Paris on Sunday then Ballydoyle is set to be represented in other Group One targets over the Arc weekend.

Perotan and Emily Dickinson join Dermot Weld’s Search For A Song as Irish possibles for Saturday’s Prix De Royallieu while later that afternoon Kyprios is likely to start a hot favourite for the Prix Du Cadran.

The 2020 winner Princess Zoe is also among 13 entries still left in the two-and-a-half marathon as is Henry De Bromhead’s Lismore.

It will be a bumper weekend of action in Ireland as well with double fixtures on both Saturday and Sunday.

A total of seven horses have been left in Saturday’s Grade Two PWC Champion Chase at Gowran with the 2020 winner Easy Game among three Willie Mullins-trained entries. They also include Franco De Port who last ran at Auteuil during the summer when third in the Grand Steeple-Chase de Paris.

Tipperary hosts a rare mixed programme on Sunday with a trio of Grade Three National Hunt pots backed up by the Group Three Coolmore Concorde Stakes.

Glounthaune is among a massive 31-strong entry still in contention for the seven-furlong event.

Runner up to Jadoomi in the Boomerang Mile at Leopardstown over Irish Champions Weekend, the one-time classic hopeful also has alternatives options at Longchamp over the weekend.

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor

Brian O'Connor is the racing correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Tipping Point column