Updated: Dec 19, 2022
Well, this is it... after almost 38 years, 2023 will unfurl as a lap of honour for racing's rock star, Frankie Dettori, as his glittering career comes to a perfectly timed close. While our sport says goodbye, as a much loved Racing Breaks ambassador, Frankie is determined to take you on board for his final year, providing exclusive experiences when booking through us.
Travel with Frankie to the Dubai World Cup in March, join him at the Derby and Royal Ascot in June and, after the Arc de Triomphe in Paris (and his farewell to the UK), stay with him as we head to the Breeders Cup in California: these could be his final two days as a professional jockey.
Breaking the news to ITV Racing, on a day when all UK race meetings had been frozen off, Dettori said his retirement was a decision he'd been contemplating for some time. "My dad stopped at 51", he told Ed Chamberlin, "and he's very supportive. I also had to speak to my wife and children." Agreement made, Dettori said he'd keep "fingers crossed" he'd stay in one piece, and would "give it a good go" next year, as he takes a farewell tour of the country. "I still have good horses to ride," he explained, "and I want to finish it like that."
The son of champion Italian jockey Gianfranco Dettori, and having just celebrated his 52nd birthday, Dettori's career began in 1985, when he arrived at the yard of Luca Cumani in Newmarket, fast rising to serve as his stable jockey. In 1990, matching Lester Piggott's hundred winners in a season, Dettori became a television staple: the subject of a This Is Your Life programme, a team captain on A Question of Sport, guest presenter of Top of the Pops, and a contestant on Celebrity Big Brother among a myriad of appearances.
Also launching a series of restaurants, a cookbook and a range of food products, Dettori (and fellow jockey Ray Cochrane) survived a plane crash in 2000, an accident that saw the pilot killed and an inferno at Newmarket Racecourse. Emerging from hospital to the flashes of the paparazzi, Dettori would suffer further turmoil in 2006, when his house was raided and his MBE seized.
Undeniably colourful, it is, despite showbiz exploits, his achievements on the racecourse for which his career will be remembered: securing over 280 G1s, and memorably taking all seven races on the card at Ascot in 1996, an event that became known as his 'Magnificent Seven'. Resurrecting his career from a drugs ban at the turn of 2012-13, his partnership with John Gosden would see him ride Golden Horn to Dettori's second Epsom Derby victory in 2015, victorious in the Irish Champion Stakes, Eclipse and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe with Golden Horn the same year.
Now, with a meritable 37 wins so far this year, Dettori bows out after a comeback that saw him, in recent seasons, ride the likes of Stradivarius and two-time Arc winner Enable. Leaving Europe after Ascot's Champions Day in October, Dettori is expected to mount his final runners at the Breeders Cup in November, signing off in a finale at Santa Anita. One last flying dismount... Frankie goes to Hollywood. It's here, below the palm trees, that the work of racing's superstar will, finally, be complete. Our century's Lester Piggott. Racing's superhero, saying goodbye to the sport he loves, and to a loyal and admiring public who love him right back.