Looking forward is what the legendary jockey Frankie Dettori said he would like to do as he accepted his award that came with him reclaiming the Longines World’s Best Jockey title for 2018. “Next year is another new page. I will try and win every big race and try and become the best jockey in the world again,” said Dettori, who was bestowed with the honour at a gala dinner at The Convention Centre in Hong Kong. Winner of the award in 2015, Dettori showed his versatility in riding, winning eight of the world’s Top 100 Group or Grade One races aboard five different horses this year. His qualifying victories came in the Prix Ganay (Cracksman), Coronation Cup (Cracksman), St James’s Palace Stakes (Without Parole), Ascot Gold Cup (Stradivarius), Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Enable), Champion Stakes (Cracksman), Breeders’ Cup Mile (Expert Eye), and Breeders’ Cup Turf (Enable).
The scoring process rewards jockeys for finishing inside the top three and Dettori earned a total of 128 points en route to joining Ryan Moore as the only dual winner of the prize. Second place went to Oisin Murphy, who finished with 114 points, while Moore, winner of the inaugural award in 2014 and then again in 2016, was third with 112 points. Reflecting on the season, Dettori added: “I’ve had a phenomenal season. To have these kind of horses in the same year is phenomenal. “A lot of thanks goes to the owners and John Gosden, who is an amazing trainer and we have done so well together. John is a genius of a trainer and what I have achieved this year is really down to him. “There are a lot of excellent jockeys out there, especially the young generation.
There is not much room for error and racing in every angle of the sport really has gone up a few notches. “Like any sport you have to be on your A-game. It is very tough, but competition makes the sport even better.” Former Godolphin rider Dettori is looking forward to 2019 and renewing his winning partnership with dual Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe winner Enable and Europe’s top stayer Stradivarius. “We tried the impossible with Enable. To win two Arcs is really a big feather in my cap. Eight horses had failed to win the Arc and at the Breeders’ Cup so it was always in the back of my mind, but she did the impossible,” Dettori said. “Hopefully that will stand her in good stead, so she will have the hunger of racing and hopefully she will have low mileage on the clock so she will get to perhaps another Arc or Breeders’ Cup. “
I am looking forward to having Enable for another year to showcase around the world and try and win a third Arc, which has never been done before. “Stradivarius, he’s staying. He’s like the furniture. He’ll be there for 50 years. The stayers’ stallion type is not exactly going to go for a hundred thousand in the breeders’ shed. They are there to race. “Hopefully we can try to win the Ascot Gold Cup. That would be great. He might as well take his clothes out of the suitcase, because he’s not going anywhere.” Since winning his first race at age 16, Italian Dettori’s enthusiasm appears undiminished. During the course of a glittering career, the Milan-born rider has won nearly everything.
He has each and every British classic to his name, including two Epsom Derby wins, 14 Breeders’ Cup victories and has won the Jockeys Championship in Great Britain thrice. He has also won nearly every race on Dubai World Cup night card, including three editions of its feature with Dubai Millennium (2000), Moon Ballad (2003) and Electrocutionist (2006). Come the Dubai World Cup Carnival, Dettori is bound to shift base to Dubai. And he is looking to make the most of the time he has left. “In 24 months, I’ll be 50 and that’s not long,” said Dettori, who turns 48 on 15 December. “Hopefully, I can squeeze out three to five years.
But at my age, when you fall, you break. Not because I want to break. The bones are hard, but you don’t bounce as good as you do when you were 20. “I used to ride 1,000 races a year, but now I ride 250 to 300. It cuts the risk of getting hurt. And I’ve got a good boss with John in that he knows I’m not as good on a Monday as I am on a Saturday.” It’s a matter of focusing on the bigger races now for Dettori. “I’m probably more nervous now than when I was in my 30s because I’ve been doing this for 30 years now and you understand the magnitude of the task ahead,” he said. “
When you are in your 30s you shrug your shoulders and get on with it. At my age, you realise: ‘Wow, I have a champion on my hands’ and you know how big a Breeders’ Cup or an Arc is. “I don’t think I slept a wink a week before the Arc. Then when it comes off I get this amazing emotion that makes you want to come back. “I love the whole thing about racing. I talk with John, I go to the barn. You get into the atmosphere of things. It means a lot. The lads, the grooms, the riders. We all live together, so when it comes off, there’s no better feeling.”