Frankie Dettori is doing his best to stay occupied at home during the coronavirus lockdown.
The Italian should have been looking forward to the unleashing of a host of big-name horses from the John Gosden yard, but like everyone else is left wondering what the future holds for the world at large, as well as when the Flat season might get under way.
Speaking on the special ‘Get Inside’ programme on Attheraces.com on Friday, he said: “We are trying to keep entertained, and for a couple of days we set up a badminton net in the sitting room and knocked a few furniture down!
“At the moment we are still in that period where we don’t believe this is happening. I’m riding out a bit, three or four times a week and that keeps me a little bit in check, but the prospect of going through this for the next four to six weeks or maybe next few months is quite scary really.
“We are very lucky, we live in Newmarket, we have plenty of fields – there are 3,500 horses in Newmarket, the horses have to go out and be fed and looked after. We are taking every precaution, the two-metre distance with each other, but at least we are out in the fresh air.
“I wouldn’t like to be in a city at the moment, stuck in an apartment and not able to go out. In one respect we are very lucky, but I feel very sorry for the guys who don’t have the freedom we have.”
Dettori also has concerns for his family in Italy, in particular his mother.
He said: “My mum had pneumonia 10 years ago, so if she has this virus I don’t think she will pull through, so she has to be really careful. She’s been on shutdown now for the last six weeks, she has to stay at home for the next two to three months. She has to be really careful.
“My dad spends the winter in Morocco. He’s 79, but even if they don’t have many cases in Morocco he’s scared that maybe the health system out there is not maybe as advanced as the one in Europe. So he’s a little bit scared.
“My sister came here for my daughter’s birthday about 40 days ago and has been stuck here ever since.”
He added: “I work with John and we were all ready to go. Things are carrying on as usual, people’s morale is good. The frustrating thing is not knowing when we are going to start.
“I’m keeping myself a little bit fit, but even so you can’t see the end of this problem and it’s very hard to keep motivated.”
Asked if a condensed season this year could lead to him being champion jockey again, Dettori said: “No chance. It’s a young man’s sport, being champion jockey – you have to do it day in, day out. I’m too long in the tooth for that. I’ve done it and got the t-shirt.
“What makes me tick is the big races, I can’t wait to start. Who knows if we’ll have the Derby this year or if it will be postponed. There’s so many questions. I haven’t got the answer – will we run Royal Ascot behind closed doors?
“It’s difficult times – racing is not that important, it’s important to us but there are people dying out there and we have to get our priorities right.”
On a lighter note, Dettori said he has asked Gosden if he could have what for him would be a rare sit away from the racecourse on superstar mare Enable, who will hopefully bid for a record third Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe later in the year.
He was to be disappointed, however, explaining: “He said ‘no, go home!’. It was a straight no! She looks great – I see her every morning and she looks great.”