Dettori relishing American adventure after rethinking retirement plan

By Sports Desk October 12, 2023

Frankie Dettori is eager for a new challenge after reversing his retirement plan to continue his career in America.

Last December Dettori stated he would bow out at the end of this year, but on Thursday he announced he was in fact no longer prepared to call time on his illustrious career.

While he had already indicated his intention to ride at the Melbourne Cup meeting, the Breeders’ Cup in November and Hong Kong in December, he was then expected to retire.

However, as the months wore on and Dettori continued to fire in the big winners, which this year have included the 2000 Guineas, the Gold Cup at Ascot and the Juddmonte International and Ebor at York, rumours began to circulate that he was maybe not prepared to depart the weighing room after all.

With his children all now self sufficient, Dettori and wife Catherine placed their Newmarket home on the rental market and announced they would be travelling the world.

Instead, they are moving to California, where he spent a successful few months last winter, finishing second in the jockey standings at Santa Anita.

Dettori revealed the news at an event to promote his last appearance at British Champions Day.

“I am simply not ready to retire completely. I’m still enjoying riding and want to carry on for a while on the international circuit,” said Dettori.

“I have had the most amazing career (based in the UK), and head to British Champions Day (October 21) with some brilliant rides. 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 but I welcome the challenge in this new chapter.”

Not even Dettori himself could have forecast how successful his final full season in the UK would have been.

It began with his 2000 Guineas strike on Chaldean and another Classic quickly followed on Soul Sister in the Oaks at Epsom.

While a third Derby victory eluded him, he did win the Coronation Cup on Emily Upjohn and enjoyed what was thought to be his final Royal Ascot, highlighted by Courage Mon Ami in the Gold Cup.

The rumours of a possible extension to his career really picked up pace at York’s Ebor meeting in August, however, when he stepped in for a suspended Jim Crowley on Mostahdaf and produced an excellent front-running ride before adding the Ebor for good measure on Willie Mullins’ Absurde.

Then last week he added another Group One in the Sun Chariot on Inspiral, fittingly his 500th winner at Newmarket.

“When I announced my retirement, I thought it was a matter of saying my goodbyes and slowly easing my way out of the sport through the back door but it has been success after success (this year),” he told Sky Sports Racing.

“It started off in America, which I really enjoyed, then the Guineas, Royal Ascot, York, France and it got to a point that my emotions were out of control and I thought I wasn’t ready to stop.

“I spoke to my family and they all said to do what makes me happy because I have to live with myself.

“Obviously I’d told everyone I was retiring at Ascot in October, that will be the case in Europe but because I enjoyed California so much last year – and it was an easier decision because my wife agreed – I’ll extend my career in the USA.”

He went on: “The decision was made easier because my kids have all left home, we’ve rented the house out and it has been in my mind for a few weeks but I wanted to make sure it was all in order.

“I applied for a visa and I’ve got one, so now I could announce it.

“It will still be sad for me on Saturday week, I will say goodbye to my fans and my beloved Ascot and a country that has been my life for 38 years but I have something more to look forward to.

“It could be three months or three years, I don’t know. It depends how well I do and depends on my body, I just felt I wasn’t ready to stop.

“The reason was because of the success I’ve had this year, it was very hard to let go.

“It’s a new challenge. I’ve achieved everything I wanted to achieve in Europe but I’d love to find a horse for the Kentucky Derby.”

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