Jockey Frankie Dettori has announced that 2023 will be his last season.
The 52-year-old, one of the sport’s best-known figures, has ridden more than 3,300 British winners since his first comeback in 1987.
His victories also include 21 British Classic successes and three Championship Jockey titles.
“Next year, 2023, will be my last professional year as a jockey. It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while,” he told ITV Racing.
“My heart wants to keep rolling but I have to use my brain. I want to stop at the top. It’s been tough, but I think it’s the right time.”
The Italian-born jockey plans to start his final season at Santa Anita on December 26, and his final outings could come at the same California track at the 2023 Breeders’ Cup next November.
He is still widely known for his achievement of Magnificent Seven at Ascot in September 1996, where he crossed the card, winning all seven races at odds of 25,051-1.
In June 2000, he and fellow jockey Ray Cochrane survived a plane crash in Newmarket which killed pilot Patrick Mackey. Cochrane pulled Dettori from the burning wreckage.
Another difficult period was a six-month ban at the end of 2012 for failing a drug test, which he later admitted was a positive test for cocaine.
Since 2015 he has worked as the first jockey for John Gosden, who now trains alongside his son Thady. But last June there was a well-publicized split between jockey and trainer referred to as “sabbatical leave”, although Dettori was soon back on horseback for the Gosdens.
Dettori’s decision to call it a day is not one he took lightly.
“It’s a very tough decision because my heart wants to keep rolling but I had to use my brain and I just turned 52 and next year I’ll be 53,” he said. declared.
“I want to be competitive enough to do justice to my owners and my horses next year, and I think I’m still in that category of being good. It was tough, but it’s the right time.
“I spoke to my dad for a long time. My dad stopped at 51, he is very supportive and I also had to talk to my wife and my children who are delighted because they have hardly seen me for 35 years. .
“I’ve been thinking about it for a few weeks and have decided that with the firepower I have next year and the horses I have to ride, I can end my career on a high note. Fingers crossed , I’m staying in one piece and we’ll give it a try next year.
“Look at Ronaldo, one day he was playing and he’s on the bench the next day. I don’t want to end up like this and end up where I struggle to make runs in the big races. At the moment I still have good horses to ride and I want to end up like this.”
AP McCoy, the 20-time champion jump jockey who retired in 2015, was among those who paid tribute to Dettori.
“The hardest part is knowing when to stop,” McCoy said. “It’s about beating the clock – and Frankie comes out on top.
“He’s racing Lionel Messi – you can’t teach a kid to ride like Frankie Dettori.”
Frank Keogh, BBC Sport
Frankie Dettori will leave a huge void in horse racing as one of the sport’s most recognized, talented and charismatic individuals.
He made headlines around the world with his Magnificent Seven at Ascot, a career highlight for which the word ‘roller coaster’ fits perfectly.
This success led to television appearances as a presenter on Top of the Pops and captain on A Question of Sport. He even launched his own line of pizzas.
In 2000 he was lucky enough to escape with his life in a plane crash in Newmarket.
Dettori enjoyed widespread success as the number one jockey for Sheikh Mohammed’s powerful Godolphin stable before a split, six-month ban after testing positive for cocaine left his career at a crossroads in 2013.
His reunion with former mentor John Gosden brought him further success, including a second Derby victory at Epsom for the jockey with Golden Horn and numerous big race successes with Enable and Stradivarius.
Dettori, who celebrated his 52nd birthday on Thursday, will now embark on a year-long farewell tour of the United States, Saudi Arabia, Dubai and the United Kingdom.
And then there will be one last flight outing for racing’s greatest showman.