Three-time champion jockey Frankie Dettori has reversed his decision to retire and he will continue race-riding in 2024.
The 52-year-old had previously said that he would hang up his silks at the end of this year, but the celebrated Flat jockey announced today (12 October), that he would instead be heading to the US to take up race-riding opportunities there and elsewhere on the international circuit.
“I’ve decided to prolong my career,” he said. “I am simply not ready to retire completely. I’m still enjoying riding and I want to carry on for a while on the international circuit.”
Frankie said the decision had been playing on his mind for several weeks after he rode so many big winners during the summer – his most successful season for several years.
“My family were part of my decision,” explained Frankie. “When I announced I was going to retire last December, I expected things to slow down but it went the other way. I just kept on winning. In the summer I thought, ‘Oh my God, I’ve only got two months to go and I’m not ready to stop’. I did not expect the success I had this year.
“But of course, by this time I’d told the whole world I was stopping, I’d said my farewells. So I talked to my parents, my wife and children, then we started the process of organising it all, getting a US visa, renting a house… So it was in my mind for a while, but I wanted to make sure everything was organised.
“First and foremost I’m doing it because of all the success I’ve had this year, that’s what’s making me carry on,” said Frankie, who spent four months in the US last year and will be based in Los Angeles, near Santa Anita racecourse. “It would have been much easier to retire if I didn’t ride a winner or couldn’t get a ride! But fortunately it’s snowballed out of my control and I’m enjoying winning.
“If you’re happy in your head, the body keeps with it. I’m enjoying what I’m doing. It’s been a crazy and emotional year, with the devil and the angel on my shoulder saying retire, don’t retire. So I’m going on for a bit longer.”
Frankie Dettori’s retirement: a return to Ascot next year?
Although the celebrated jockey still intends to ride for the last time in Britain at next week’s Qipco British Champions Day at Ascot (21 October), he cannot rule out returning to the UK or Europe to race-ride in future.
“Emotionally, Champions Day is going to be difficult because I have to separate all the emotion with the riding, but it is my favourite track and I will have everyone I know there, so there’s extra pressure but it’s my last goodbye really,” said Frankie Dettori. “I will shed tears of sadness and happiness, it will be the last time I walk into the jockeys’ room and I’ll be walking out with amazing memories.
“At the moment, I can’t think that far ahead,” he added, about next year’s Royal Ascot. “I’m going to America, where I’ll ride for a bit – it could be three months or three years, it depends how successful I am and it depends on my body. If things go bad, I’ll be straight back! The weather’s nice and you don’t have to travel. But getting a ride in the Kentucky Derby would be my main ambition.
“What happens in the future, I don’t know. Everyone keeps asking me about coming back for Royal Ascot and it depends how it falls in the American calendar. I’m not going to go back and forwards every weekend. So at the moment I’m committed to staying in America – it’s a new challenge to get out of my system.
“I have had the most amazing career and I head to British Champions Day with some brilliant rides,” said Frankie, whose most celebrated achievement was riding all seven winners at Ascot in 1996. “This will mark my final day riding in Britain, after which I will head to America for the Breeders’ Cup and then Melbourne for the Carnival.
“The current plan is to return to ride at Santa Anita in the States at the end of the year. How long I continue race-riding overseas, and where my American journey takes me, no one can predict.
“I’m going to enjoy Saturday and move on to the next chapter.”
Frankie Dettori: ‘I’ll miss hearing the charm of Go on, Frankie!’
When asked what he would miss the most about riding in the UK, Frankie said, “The public.
“It took me 30 years to create this amazing fanbase and it’s selfish but every time I ride, all I hear is my name! That might annoy my colleagues a bit! But I’ll miss the charm of ‘Go on, Frankie!’”
At a Flying Frankie pop-up on London’s South Bank, organised by Great British Racing and Qipco British Champions Series to mark the end of his British career, Frankie met his fans and demonstrated his signature flying dismount – from a trampoline.
Frankie has been one of the most popular and successful jockeys of all time in a career spanning more than three decades. He burst on to the British racing scene in 1985 aged just 15, going on to win the five British Classics multiple times and recorded 3.365 winners in Great Britain alone, putting him in the top five British-based Flat jockeys of all time.
He has enjoyed a remarkably successful farewell season. He recently achieved his 500th winner at his home track, Newmarket.
There have been rumours circulating that Frankie might be entering the jungle this year as part of “I’m a Celebrity, Get Me Out of Here…”, but “I’m still waiting for the phone call!” he said. “It’s still a rumour at the moment!”
As always, Frankie Dettori is full of surprises, so watch this space.
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