IT was on the evening of 2000 Guineas day last year in the Bedford

Lodge, a homely hostelry on the Bury Road at Newmarket, that I first

heard the whisper.

It came from a local friend, with whom I was enjoying a glass of the

stuff that reaches the parts that lesser stuffs don't reach. According

to him, the Newmarket grapevine had it that young Frankie Dettori, in a

matter of weeks, would take over from Ray Cochrane as first jockey to

the powerful Bedford House stable of Luca Cumani.

A month later, that speculation looked not nearly so far-fetched. In

June, young Dettori won 20 races, and took the Jockey of the Month title

from under the nose of the champion, Pat Eddery, who had won eight races

at Royal Ascot.

In August, speculation became fact when the news came through that

Cumani had confirmed the young Italian as successor to Cochrane. And as

if to put an additional stamp of justification on the appointment, more

winners flowed, including the prestigious Group 3 Diadem Stakes at Ascot

in September on Neville Callaghan's Chummy's Favourite.

By the end of the season, he had ridden the astonishing total of 71

winners, finishing twelfth in the winning jockeys' list. But when you

get to know the racing background of this personable 19-year-old, his

climb to racing prominence is not too surprising.

Frankie, who hails from Milan, is the son of Gianfranco Dettori, who

has been champion jockey in Italy for the past fifteen seasons, and rode

for Henry Cecil in this country during the 1970s, winning the 2000

Guineas on Bolkonski and Wollow in successive years.

The Dettori-Cumani connection also is long standing, Gianfranco having

ridden for Luca Cumani's father in Italy.

Frankie, who came to Newmarket when he was 14, and, at that time could

not speak a word of English, started his apprenticeship at Bedford

House. It was two years later before he had his first ride in public,

but he then had eight winners, and raised this total to 22 the following

season. Last year, he galloped away with the apprentice title.

Meantime, young Dettori is looking forward to the powerful Bedford

House stable's big assault on Royal Ascot which begins next Tuesday, and

particularly to renewing his partnership with Legal Case, last year's

Champion Stakes winner.

This son of Alleged is due to make his seasonal debut in the Prince of

Wales's Stakes on the opening day. His future targets are then either

the Eclipse Stakes at Sandown or the Princess of Wales' Stakes at

Newmarket next month.

Legal Case is then expected to return to Ascot for the prestigious

King George VI Stakes and Queen Elizabeth Diamond Stakes. Another of the

Cumani-Dettori big guns who is expected out on the opening day is Mark

Of Distinction, fourth to Safawan in the Lockinge at Newbury, who will

line up for the Queen Anne Stakes.

The stable will be represented by True Dividend in the Royal Hunt Cup

on Wednesday, and Tidemark who won last Friday's Kentucky Handicap at

Epsom, is earmarked for the King George V Handicap on the final Royal

meeting day on Friday.

Roseate Tern, a big disappointment in the Coronation Cup at Epsom last

week -- which was put down to the soft going -- will attempt to make

amends in the Hardwicke Stakes provided the going is firm.

Of the sprinters in the Bedford House yard, Be Fresh and Khaydara

could both line up in the Wokingham, while Montendre, beaten by Rock

City in the Greenham Stakes at Newbury, could take a lot of beating in

the Cork and Orrery Stakes.

Frankie Dettori's ambition for 1990 is to partner 100 winners. Up to

Monday of this week, he had ridden 33, the same number as Ray Cochrane

whom he succeeded as Cumani's first jockey, just a year ago. His

percentage of wins as against total rides is 18, as against 14 for


Not bad for an Italian youngster who arrived at Newmarket just five

years ago without a word of English. Could this be the start of a

Dettori decade?

IN The Groove, who finished a disappointing fourth behind Salsabil in

the Oaks, will now be rested and brought back for the ten-and-a-half

furlongs Juddmonte International at York in August.

Trainer David Elsworth said: ''Under the circumstances she had a very

hard race. I am loathe to make excuses but she was beaten too far out

for that to have been her true form. I have a feeling that she was a

much better filly at The Curragh but if you had asked me before the

Epsom race I would have said she was spot on.''