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After enjoying an unbelievable and unmatched career as a jockey, Frankie Dettori was all set to retire from his role as a professional jockey at the end of the British flat racing season. The 52-year-old, who has been a huge figure in the racing world for well over 30 years, enjoyed a fantastic week at the York Ebor meeting back in August, which looked to have given the man famous for his flying dismount as well as his superb ability in the saddle the perfect end to a perfect career, though it now seems the show will go on.
On Thursday, October 12th, 2023, Dettori announced that he now plans to postpone his retirement and instead continue his racing journey in the United States of America, where he has set his sights on riding in the Kentucky Derby, a race due to take place next May.
Frankie will say his “last” goodbyes to the British game on Champions Day at Ascot, which takes place in just under a fortnight, and will then relocate to California, where he hopes to ride some of the top US horses.
One place left to conquer
Frankie Dettori is a man who has achieved everything there is to achieve on British shores, winning the 1,000 Guineas four times, the 2,000 Guineas four times, the Ascot Gold Cup nine times, the Epsom Derby twice, the Epsom Oaks seven times and the St. Leger twice. He’s also amassed no shortage of high-profile wins on the international stage, winning huge races such as the Prix de L’Arc de Triomphe on no fewer than six occasions, partnering legend of recent times Enable to success in that race in both 2017 and 2018. Among his notable other international victories are the Qatar Gold Trophy, the Derby Italiano, the Dubai Sheema Classic, the Dubai World Cup, the Japan Dirt Cup, the Irish Oaks, the Irish St. Leger, the Irish Derby and the Irish 2,00 Guineas.
However, for his long list of wins in Britain, Ireland and on the international stage, Frankie has barely scratched the surface when it comes to the US. The Italian jockey does have a few American accolades under his belt, but most of those have come at the Breeders Cup when riding British or European horses. His only other win on US soil came in the Beverly D. Stakes back in 2004, so it seems logical that the man who has conquered all else that the sport has to offer wants to have a serious crack at some of the biggest races in the states, such as the Belmont Stakes, the Preakness Stakes and the Kentucky Derby.
Will he be back at his beloved Ascot in 2024?
With the news that Mr. Flying Dismount is no longer retiring, at least not yet anyway, comes the question of Royal Ascot next year. Dettori has long since had an affiliation with the Royal meeting at Ascot, as it’s a meeting that has given him no shortage of winners. He is in fact the most successful Royal Ascot jockey of all time in terms of winners. When asked whether or not he would be making an appearance at the prestigious meeting in 2024, he replied: “at the moment I can’t see any further than the Kentucky Derby. My goal is to get a decent ride in that.”, before going on to add: “In the past, American jockeys have come over to Royal Ascot to ride for people like Wesley Ward. It would all depend on how it clashes with the American calendar.”.
Clearly we’re talking about a man who is still very much in love with his job, and such people rarely quit, and knowing how long Frankie has already stuck around at the highest level, if things go well in America, he’ll likely be back on British shores come next year’s Royal Ascot. The legendary horseman cited believing that he would find himself short of top rides as a reason for wanting to call it a day, but clearly that’s not the case, and it probably won’t be for many years to come. If someone offered me an even-money bet that Frankie Dettori would ride at Ascot in 2030, let alone 2024, I’d probably take it!
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