Frankie Dettori described himself as “gutted” to be missing next week’s Ebor Festival at York after choosing instead to ride in France this weekend.
The popular Italian was booked by trainer John Gosden to partner his French Derby hero Mishriff in Saturday’s Group Two Prix Guillaume d’Ornano at Deauville, and the unbeaten St James’s Palace Stakes winner Palace Pier in the Group One Prix Jacques le Marois the following afternoon.
However, a Government announcement late on Thursday evening revealed France was to join the UK’s quarantine list from 4am on Saturday, following a spike in coronavirus cases, meaning anyone travelling back across the Channel after that time will need to quarantine for 14 days.
Dettori told the PA news agency on Friday: “Obviously I only found out at 10pm last night.
“This morning I spoke at length with John, and I decided to go to France.
“With Enable not running and Stradivarius not running at York, it made my decision a lot easier.
“Obviously Lord North is a good horse, and I’ll be missing him, but the prize money in France is unbelievable.
“I had to make a decision – they are two very good horses, and I’ve decided to go to France instead.
“Of course I’m gutted to be missing York – but I can’t stop the Government doing what they want to do.”
Gosden said earlier in the day: “Frankie will be riding in France – that is the intention, absolutely.
“It will mean he will miss York. These plans have been in place for a while – for Palace Pier since the St James’s Palace and for Mishriff since the Prix du Jockey Club.
“He (Dettori) would prefer to ride this weekend. It is far from ideal to miss York, but these are strange times that we live in.”
In Dettori’s absence, Gosden hopes James Doyle will maintain his partnership with Lord North in the Juddmonte International at York, having steered him to victory in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes at Royal Ascot in June.
“I’m hoping James Doyle will be available,” Gosden added.
The British Horseracing Authority said that riders would have to self-isolate for 14 days on their return from France or use the elite athlete exemption rule – which requires two coronavirus tests seven days apart.
A spokesperson said: “The UK Government has confirmed that from 4am on Saturday August 15, France will be removed from its list of travel corridor counties. This means that anyone returning to the UK from France after this point will be required to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival in the UK.
“As such, any jockey, trainer or member of stable staff wishing to participate in a French fixture after this date will either have to self-isolate for 14 days on return, or elect to use the elite athlete exemption which requires undergoing two Covid-19 tests upon return to the UK. The first test should be taken as soon as is possible following return to the UK and a second test seven days on from return to the UK.
“Both test results will have to be negative and the participant would also have to satisfy any other requirements that the BHA’s medical department may impose as part of a risk assessment process, such as being interviewed and providing details of accommodation and other movements whilst overseas.
“The BHA reserves the right to prevent the participant from returning to a race fixture in Great Britain until the full 14-day self-isolation period is up should there be any concerns regarding potential transmission of the virus.
“The BHA has been assisting participants this week who have been considering riding in France in the near future, and will be publishing a full protocol for all participants considering travelling to countries without a travel corridor as soon as possible to assist in their planning.”