Frankie Dettori, the world’s most famous jockey, will ride through the northern hemisphere winter in America to prepare for his farewell year in the saddle.
Dettori leaves England for a two-month riding stint in California on Thursday after confirming 2023 will be his last as a jockey.
“I started thinking about making plans for my retirement about a month ago,” Dettori revealed on his Sporting Index blog on Monday.
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“I thought if I do have one more year, I’ll be 53, and I said to myself, I’m lucky to have gotten this far and it all has to end at some point.
“My heart wants to carry on, but after weighing up all the situations, going out at 53 in one piece seems the right thing to do.
“I thought it would be best to give everyone, including myself, a final year to enjoy it and be able to give all the fans one last goodbye.”
Dettori, 51, has ridden more than 3300 winners worldwide, 282 at Group 1 level including 21 British classics.
He’s partnered some of the greatest horses of the modern era including Dubai Millennium, Lammtarra, Golden Horn, Daylami, Stradivarius and Enable.
The flamboyant Dettori rode in Sydney during the spring carnival at the Golden Eagle meeting at Rosehill and the Big Dance at Royal Randwick on Melbourne Cup Day and although he went winless in nine rides, indicated he would like to return next year.
Dettori after riding Yonkers in the Rosehill Gold Cup at the Golden Eagle meeting. Picture: Mark Evans-Getty Images
“I’ve never been to Sydney before but everyone has been fabulous, overwhelmingly nice and I’ve really enjoyed it,” Dettori said at the time.
“The club has been amazing, they took me everywhere and I’ve had lots of fun. It’s a shame I didn’t win but it has been a great experience. I’ve loved it.
“I’d like to have another go at the Melbourne Cup but, either way, if it’s not there, I’d come back here for this race.”
Dettori will ride in California for the next two months and then return to Europe to prepare for the start of the classic season in May.
“The July Cup is obviously one of the top targets again next season, as that’s the only Group 1 I haven’t won in England,” Dettori said.
“But every step I take next year is going to be emotional and important, starting with the Guineas.
“All I want to do is give it my very best in my last year and enjoy it as much as possible.”
Dettori admitted to feeling “a little bit sad” as he begins his final year as a jockey.
“The thing I think I’ll miss most about racing is the weighing room,” he said.
“It’s a timeless place, and that’s probably why you feel like you can go on for so long as a jockey.
“I’ll be walking in there as a 52-year-old now, but you can still feel like you’re 16 – it’s a place where everyone feels the same age. I’ve spent half of my life in there, so I will miss it a lot.”
Dettori with Damian Lane before the 2019 Melbourne Cup. Picture: AAP
Dettori has no intention to become a trainer and instead revealed long-term plans to work in the racing media as an expert TV commentator.
“Once 2023 is done, then I’ll have to take a bit of time to come to terms with the fact that I’ll have finally stopped, regroup and then see what opportunities are out there,” he said.
“The transition to working on TV is the way that I’m thinking, but I haven’t put my 100 percent thought into that yet, as I want to focus on doing 2023 well first.
“For now, I’m fit and ready to go to California on Thursday. That will be the beginning of the end and I’m going to put everything into it.”
FRANKIE’S CAREER HIGHLIGHTS
■ Ridden more than 3300 winners
■ Three-time British Champion Jockey
■ Rode all seven winners on British Champions Day at Ascot in 1996
English Derby – 2: Authorized (2007), Golden Horn (2015)
2000 Guineas – 3: Mark Of Esteem (1996), Island Sands (1999) Galileo Gold (2016)
1000 Guineas – 4: Cape Verdi (1998), Kazzia (2002), Blue Bunting (2011), Mother Earth (2021)
English St Leger – 6: Classic Cliché (1995), Shantou (1996), Scorpion (2005), Sixties icon (2006), Conduit (2008), Logician (2019)
English Oaks – 6: Balanchine (1994), Moonshell (1995), Kazzia (2002), Enable (2017), Anapurna (2019), Snowfall (2021)
Ascot Gold Cup – 8: Drum Taps (1992-93), Kayf Tara (1998), Papineau (2004), Color vision (2012), Stradivarius (2018-19-20)
Champion Stakes – 2: Cracksman (2017-18)
King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes – 7: Lammtarra (1995), Swain (1998), Daylami (1999), Doyen (2004), Enable (2017, 2019-2020)
Prince Of Wales’s Stakes – 4: Fantastic Light (2001), Grandera (2002), Rewilding (2011), Crystal Ocean (2019)
Queen Anne Stakes – 7: Markofdistinction (1990), Allied Forces (1997), Intikhab (1998), Dubai Destination (2003), Refuse To Bend (2004), Ramonti (2007), Palace Pier (2021)
Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe – 6: Lammtarra (1995), Sakhee (2001), Marienbard (2002), Golden Horn (2015), Enable (2017-18)
US Breeders Cup – 14 including five Breeders Cup Turf on Daylami (1999), Fantastic Light (2001), Red Rocks (2006), Dangerous Midge (2010), Enable (2018)
Dubai World Cup – 4: Dubai Millennium (2000), Moon Ballad (2003), Electrocutionist (2006), Country Grammer (2022)
Japan Cup – 3: Singspiel (1996), Falbrav (2002), Alkaased
Hong Kong International Cup – 3: Fantastic Light (2000), Falbrav (2003), Ramonti (2007)