Home Business Insights & Advice Will Frankie Dettori’s retirement be a loss for horse racing?

Will Frankie Dettori’s retirement be a loss for horse racing?

by Sarah Dunsby
11th Oct 23 3:10 pm

Frankie Dettori is not just one of the most recognisable figures in horse racing, but the charismatic rider is also a household figure in the UK due to stints on Celebrity Big Brother and his ability to help his sport grab the front-page headlines, as well as the back in the national newspapers.

Dettori announced at the start of 2023 that this would be his final season in the saddle. He has been embarking on a farewell tour this year, getting to as many racecourses as possible to say goodbye to his fans.

The 52-year-old has been one of the leading jockeys in the sport ever since he joined Luca Cumani’s stable in the UK in 1985. He has gone on to win 23 British Classics and over 280 Group One races around the world.

Dettori is unreplaceable in the sport

Racecourses across the UK, including those just outside of London, could feel the loss of Dettori’s retirement in 2024. They will be hoping attendance at their courses does not drop with the Italian not involved in their meetings, otherwise that will hurt them financially.

Broadcasters in the sport like ITV Racing and Sky Sports Racing will also be worried about what Dettori’s absence may do to their viewership numbers. Dettori, when not injured, has always been part of the leading Flat meetings in Europe. Many horse racing fans look forward to seeing him ride and then his trademark flying dismount celebration following his success.

This season has been another excellent campaign for the former Champion Jockey, as he has had wins in the 2,000 Guineas, Ascot Gold Cup, Coronation Cup, International Stakes, and Yorkshire Oaks. Those major race wins in the UK prove he remains at the top of his game, despite his age.

When owners get involved in racehorse ownership in the sport, they want the best jockeys to ride their horses. Classic winning trainer Andrew Balding, who is part of the RaceShare team of trainers, is one of those who regularly uses Dettori when he is available. The likes of Balding and others will now need to look elsewhere to find someone they trust to ride their best horses in the biggest races of the year.

Ascot seven-timer will never be forgotten

Arguably the greatest day in Dettori’s career came in 1996 when he rode a seven-timer at Ascot, going through the card with a winner in each of the seven races. It was reported that it cost Britain’s bookmakers millions in pay-outs that day.

The Magnificent Seven included victories in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, Cumberland Lodge Stakes, and Diadem Stakes. The BBC broadcasted that meeting in 1996 and they were not scheduled to cover the last two races on the card, but they continued with coverage from Ascot to capture the record-breaking moment.

It is expected that Dettori’s final ride of his career will come in Hong Kong in December, with his last assignment in the UK likely to be in November with the final Flat meeting of the season at Doncaster.

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