Legendary jockey Frankie Dettori revealed on Saturday that he planned to retire from horse racing after the 2023 season.
Dettori’s iconic 35-year career has seen him enjoy over 3,000 winners, but the Italian said he will make his last ride next year.
The flamboyant 52-year-old, a three-time Champion Jockey, admitted he had been pondering his retirement for some time.
“Next year, 2023, will be my final professional year as a jockey,” Dettori told ITV Racing.
“It’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while. My heart wants to carry on riding but I have to use my brain.
“I want to stop at the top. It has been difficult, but I think it’s the right time.”
Dettori is aiming to start his final season at Santa Anita on December 26.
His last ever rides will be at the same California track in the Breeders Cup in November 2023.
That will bring down the curtain on one of the most memorable horse racing careers.
“I will be riding right through. Obviously it will be my last Guineas, my last Derby, my last Royal Ascot and then I will probably finish in Britain at either Champions Day at Ascot or at Newmarket,” he said.
“The final farewell as a professional rider will be in California at the Breeders’ Cup.”
Dettori announced his arrival on the British racing scene with his first victory in the United Kingdom in 1987.
He is still fondly remembered for his ‘magnificent seven’ triumph on Champions Day at Ascot in 1996 when he won all seven races on the card at odds of 25,051-1.
– ‘Make it a celebration’ –
Dettori admitted he only took the tough decision to walk away from racing after a long discussion with his family, including his former jockey father Gianfranco.
“I spoke to dad at length, he stopped at 51. He was very supportive. My wife and children were delighted because they didn’t see me for 33 years,” Dettori said.
“I hope I can finish my career on a big note and in one piece.”
Dettori was the first teenager to ride 100 winners in a season since Lester Piggott and went on to land 21 British Classic successes.
The Italian earned fans around the world for his memorable flying dismount celebration.
Dettori established himself as one of the all-time greats in association with numerous iconic horses, including dual Arc winner Enable and two Derby champions in Authorized and Golden Horn.
Dettori’s decision to quit may have been influenced by a difficult period that saw him lose his role as John Gosden’s main jockey in June.
That followed criticism of Dettori’s poor performance at Royal Ascot from Gosden, who had previously been a long-time supporter of the Italian.
Referencing the recent decline of football legend Cristiano Ronaldo, who parted ways with Manchester United in November, Dettori said he wanted to bow out while he is still at the top.
“I am not making comparisons but look at Ronaldo. He was playing one minute and he was on the bench next. I don’t want to end up like that,” said Dettori, who had already hinted in October that he might retire after the 2023 season.
“I don’t want to be struggling to ride in the big races. I still have good horses to ride and I want to finish it like that.
“It is going to be emotionally draining but I am looking at it in a positive way and make it a celebration.”