Elton John won’t be the only big name conducting a farewell tour in 2023 as Frankie Dettori revealed to ITV Racing on Saturday that he plans to retire from riding at the end of next season.
Appearing via video link from London, Dettori discussed his schedule for his final 12 months in the saddle, which is set to conclude in the US at the Breeders’ Cup meeting at Santa Anita in November.
The Italian jockey, 52, told Ed Chamberlin: “Next year will be my final professional year as a jockey. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while. It will be my finale.
“I’m riding at Santa Anita on Boxing Day and the plan is to spend ten weeks in California, making my way back via Dubai and Saudi for the start of the season in Newmarket.
“I’ll be riding right through. Obviously, it will be my last Guineas, my last Derby, my last Royal Ascot and so on and so forth. Then I’ll finish at the end of the season on Champions Day, and I’ll probably have my final farewell as a professional rider in California at the Breeders’ Cup.”
He continued: “It was a very difficult decision because my heart wants to carry on riding, but I’ve just turned 52 and I want to stop at the top. I want to be competitive enough to do myself, my owners and my horses justice next year. I think I’m still in that bracket of being good. It’s the right time.
“I spoke to my dad at length. He stopped [riding] at 51 and has been very supportive. I also spoke to my wife and children – they were delighted really, as they haven’t seen me for 35 years!
“I had to come to terms with it. I’ve been thinking about it for a few weeks. I decided with the firepower I have next year I can finish my career on a big note. Fingers crossed I can stay in one piece, and we’ll give it a good go next year.”
Dettori has been the face of racing for over three decades and has been associated with some of the greatest names to have graced the turf since he burst on to the scene in the late 1980s when attached to the Luca Cumani stable.
The likes of Swain, Singspiel, Dubai Millennium, Fantastic Light and Dubawi provided plenty of Group 1 triumphs when Dettori was top jockey for Sheikh Mohammed and Godolphin, while recent champions include Derby winner Golden Horn, dual Arc heroine Enable, brilliant miler Palace Pier and outstanding stayer Stradivarius, all trained by long-time supporter John Gosden.
Champion Flat jockey on three occasions, in September 1996 Dettori made history when riding all seven winners on Ascot’s Queen Elizabeth II Stakes card, costing the betting industry tens of millions of pounds and putting some bookmakers out of business.
Despite the many setbacks during his career – his sacking by Godolphin, surviving a fatal plane crash, being banned for cocaine use – Dettori has always rebounded to reach the top level again and he remains by some way the most popular personality within the sport of horseracing.