Frankie Dettori hopes Dubai Warrior can make his first ride in Britain in 2020 a winning one in the Betway Winter Derby at Lingfield on Saturday.
The popular Italian is looking to secure back-to-back victories in the Group Three aboard the son Dansili – who is one of two runners in the race for trainer John Gosden, alongside Court House – having steered Wissahickon to glory 12 months ago.
Though Dettori has not been sighted on home shores in recent months, he has ridden in a number of countries since the end of the 2019 domestic campaign.
He said: “I’ve been non stop, even though I’m the grand old age of 49 now. I had the Breeders’ Cup, Melbourne Cup and then was back home for a few days before going out to Japan for two weeks and Hong Kong.
“I was back home for Christmas, but since then I’ve ridden in Bahrain and been over to Saudi Arabia to try the track out there. The past week has been my first full week off in ages.
“I remember riding in Britain this time last year and I was wrapped up like I was skiing, as it was about minus three – this year it is the complete opposite.”
With Dubai Warrior scoring in a course-and-distance Listed contest on his final start of last year, former champion jockey Dettori is optimistic he can take another step forward by claiming the first Pattern race victory of his career.
He said: “Dubai Warrior won really well last time. The favourite Bangkok looked mighty impressive here on his last run and will be hard to beat.
“Dubai Warrior has done nothing wrong, though, and will serve it up to him. He has got low mileage and we will see what happens and take it from there, as he could come back to Good Friday afterwards.”
Andrew Balding believes Bangkok will need to be on top of his game if he is to back up his success in the Winter Derby Trial at the course earlier this month and make it two from two at the Surrey track
He said: “We were delighted with his run last time, when he won well in a track-record time. He looked impressive that day and seems in good form, but this is a tougher race.
“His draw in four will be fine, but like all these Lingfield races you need a bit of luck in running. It was not a surprise to see him take to the all-weather, but it was just nice to see him win like he did.
“There are others in the race, but we have the utmost respect for Dubai Warrior as he is four from five on a synthetic surface.”
While Bangkok had other engagements abroad, the Kingsclere handler feels this was the right step to take at this stage of his career.
He added: “We could have had a look at the turf races in Saudi Arabia, but he had a long trip over to Doha just after Christmas and he has only just turned four.
“Hopefully he will be a horse we can think about travelling with again later in the year.”
The field is completed by Dalgarno (Jane Chapple-Hyam), Pactolus (Stuart Williams) and the David Elsworth-trained pair of Entangling and Master The World.
Elsewhere on the card, Jim Crowley is another former champion who will be having his first ride in Britain this year, as he teams up with the Owen Burrows-trained Habub in the Bombardier “March To Your Own Drum” Handicap.
Crowley said: “I like Lingfield and it has been a good track to me. I’m looking forward to coming back, even though it is only a fleeting visit as I will be back out to Dubai afterwards for the Carnival on Thursday.
“I’ve won on Habub before and he is a nice horse and the plan with him is Finals Day, so this fits in well.
“Although he has won over six furlongs, going back to a mile is more suitable and that is where he has been progressing. Hugo Palmer’s horse (Almufti) won well last time and we do have top-weight, but hopefully he will go well.”