Horse racing: Legendary jockey Frankie Dettori hopes to go on till he's 50

LONDON (AFP) - Riding great Frankie Dettori told the BBC after returning from his six-month ban for taking cocaine that he hopes to carry on riding till he's 50.

The exuberant 42-year-old Italian - who once famously went through the card at Ascot with all seven winners at combined odds of 25,000/1 - added he hoped to break the century winners mark for this season even though he had already missed the first three months because of the ban imposed by French racing authorities last December.

"It's quite scary going into the unknown. I'm starting from scratch again but think I can ride until I'm 50. Look at Gary Stevens," he said referring to the American legend who came out of retirement this season aged 50 and has won several top races.

"I'm still in my prime and will carry on as long as I can, with all the major races as my target."

Dettori, who blamed his taking of cocaine on being released by the Godolphin Operation at the end of last season after 18 years of huge success for both parties, said thoughts of winning a fourth jockey's championship in the future were somewhat fanciful.

"It's not something I have thought about too much really," said Dettori, whose last jockey's title was in 2004 and has seen him progressively finish further down the field reaching a low of joint-27th last term with 51 winners.

"I've got to be realistic, try to ride as many winners as I can, without burning myself out.

"If it happened that I had a great start, a purple patch, then I might pursue it but at this stage, I will try to get 100 winners this season."

Dettori, who said telling his parents about how he tested positive for cocaine had been the toughest thing to do, said he was looking forward to riding at Royal Ascot in a fortnight's time having missed out on rides in the Oaks and Epsom Derby because the French authorities did not give him permission to ride until last Thursday until undisclosed outstanding issues were cleared up.

Dettori, who could well pick up rides from four-time Derby winning trainer Aidan O'Brien, who waxed lyrical about him after winning the Derby on Saturday, preferred not to talk about what those issues were and instead focused on Ascot and what it meant to him.

"Royal Ascot is around the corner so I'm concentrating on that. It is my favourite meeting, I have ridden 50 winners there, and it's the ultimate - the Olympics of horse racing," he said.

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