The Frankie Dettori farewell tour will hit Budapest on Saturday where the Italian will take centre stage on one of the biggest days in the Hungarian racing calendar.
Dettori will have six rides on the nine-race card but will be linking up with some familiar faces at the capital’s Kincsem Park as officials prepare to welcome British-trained raiders for the first time.
All four horses making the journey from the UK are owned by Fitri Hay and her husband Jim, whose connection with Hungarian minister of defence Kristof Szalay-Bobrovniczky – also a key figure on the Hungarian horse racing scene – has led to this somewhat unexpected leg of Dettori’s international swansong.
The 52-year-old is set to partner Ian Williams’ Silent Film in a local Group Two contest before getting the leg-up aboard Paul and Oliver Cole’s Splendent in the feature Kincsem Stakes, a race which carries local Group One status.
Andrew Balding’s Sceptic and David Simcock’s Tides Of War are the other Hay-owned runners in action and their racing manager Alex Cole is hoping he has selected the correct squad for a fruitful venture to eastern Europe.
He said: “It’s very difficult to gauge the level for which they race, but I hope I’ve picked the right ones out of the stable rated around the 90s mark to be highly competitive.
“Horses can make days or ruin days, but fingers crossed.
“We’re all here now, Jim and Fitri are here, Frankie is here and the trainers are here. It all revolves around the Hays’ business interests, which ties in with the minister of defence who is also in charge of horse racing in Hungary.”
Dettori is no stranger to winning major contests around the world but a win in Bratislava in the Slovakian Derby is the closest the well-known racing figure has come to stepping foot on Hungarian turf, with officials hoping the Italian’s visit will provide a shot in the arm for racing in the country.
They also hope the ‘Dettori factor’ will see a bumper crowd in attendance for the feature of their Autumn International Meeting, which also sees greyhound racing and trotting take place at Budapest’s Kincsem Park.
“There are four major stakes races and Dr and Mrs Hay have four horses running, two in the mile race and two in the mile and a half,” said Botond Kovacs, international liaisons officer at Kincsem Park.
“It is the first time we are hosting English-trained horses here in Budapest and we are absolutely thrilled and over the moon, especially that Frankie Dettori is here. It is a huge privilege to have both Frankie and the Hays. It is his last season and he was gracious enough to accept our invitation.
“Frankie has arrived and he says our racecourse is 10 out of 10 and hopefully we will get a good crowd, we are hoping for a number around 6,000 to 7,000, perhaps more.
“The meeting is part of a horse and greyhound festival and the Autumn International Meeting is the highlight of the year, with obviously the Kincsem Stakes the feature race of the day with 55,000 euros in the pot up for grabs.
“We are very hopeful that this meeting can put Hungarian racing back on the map of racing in Europe.”