Good racing entertainment ready for a farewell ride

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Frankie Dettori will race into retirement in 2023 after expanding the global profile of horse racing in the same way that sprint legend Usain Bolt achieved in athletics.

When the Italian’s flight collapsed, his emotional display in victory or defeat, and his association with the likes of two-time Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe champion Enable, gave the sport a superstar.

However, after turning 52 on Thursday, he seems to feel he only has one more year left.

It has been quite a ride. At times, it was far from smooth.

His strength in bouncing back from cheating death in a plane crash in 2000, and a failed doping test in 2012, won him widespread praise.

“When you are blamed you fight,” he said.

Good came from those two difficult events as he formed close bonds with Enable’s trainer John Gosden, and former jockey – and now his agent – Ray Cochrane.

It was Cochrane who pulled him from the wreckage of the plane when it crashed in Newmarket on its way to Goodwood Racecourse in Sussex on June 1, 2000.

“I was lucky I didn’t die in the accident itself,” Dettori told AFP in 2020.

“I broke my leg and I was lucky that Ray managed to drag me out of the plane and then it exploded. The pilot died, so I was lucky twice.

“We’ve been through something you can’t explain, put into words, the experience. It was very difficult to get out of it, it took me two years.

“We almost didn’t talk about that (with other people) because it’s something that only he and I understand.

“I should be dead so I have to thank God I’m still here.”

– ‘Bed of Roses’ –

Gosden bailed him out twice.

First in 1993 when Dettori saw a lucrative horse-riding contract in Hong Kong canceled after British police warned him about possession of cocaine.

“Any combination of jockey and trainer has to be one of complete trust and self-belief but also very much about how you deal with difficult times,” Gosden told AFP in 2019.

“The trainer has to be confident for a jockey if they see them going into the wrong areas and I’m not talking about riding at work or at the races.”

It was Gosden who gave him another way of life. As the trainer remembered, it was November 11, 2014.

Dettori had a miserable few years, falling out with racing powerhouse Godolphin after 18 years and a six-month ban for failing a dope test in France.

“He was in free fall and a pretty sad two years scraping around for any ride he could get,” Gosden said.

“It’s a fantastic lifestyle (being a jockey) but the pole is very slippery. It’s not a bed of roses, there are definitely some thorns.”

Fortunately for Dettori, both Cochrane and Gosden provided the sage advice he needed as he rose to fame in the 1990s.

“I’m the equivalent of a young boxer who was very successful and collects a whole set of hangers on,” said Gosden.

“They (the hangers-on) have a good way of burning the money and taking you to a lot of the wrong places and when you’re young and have a lot of money you have to be careful about that and Frankie was no exception. “

Dettori said winning the 2015 Derby on Golden Horn was “the greatest joy I’ve ever had on a horse in a race” because at 44 he never thought he would get​​​​ another chance to win the blue riband.

“I’ll never forget when I left (the Epsom race) my kids had a big banner saying ‘come on dad, try to win it again’,” Dettori said.

The great entertainer will get one more chance to do so in 2023.


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