- Two huge murals of Frankie Dettori have been unveiled at Newmarket
- Dettori has been the public face of British racing for almost three decades
There is not much chance of Frankie Dettori’s colleagues in the weighing room forgetting him at Newmarket, where took his final ride on Saturday.
The track has unveiled two huge murals of the Italian, one a massive image on the side of a stand of his flying dismount, which jockeys will see every time they pass the winning post.
You don’t ride 3,365 winners in Britain, win three champion jockey titles, 280 group races worldwide and earn more than £94million in British prizemoney without leaving quite a mark. He has been the public face of British racing for almost three decades.
His departure from the domestic stage comes just as the British Horseracing Authority has launched a fixture overhaul designed to halt the decline in racecourse attendances.
Dettori is to extend his career by riding on at least until May next year at Santa Anita in California, but raises the reasonable of whether anyone fill the gap in Britain left by the irrepressible Italian.
Frankie Dettori was honoured at Newmarket following his final ride at the famous course
Two huge murals of Dettori were unveiled in the member’s area at Newmarket Racecourse
It is questionable whether anyone will be able to match Dettori’s impact on British racing
Nick Attenborough, the chairman of the Professional Jockeys’ Association, believes the sport should have faith in the future generation of jockeys. ‘Frankie has made an extraordinary impact on British racing. His departure is a massive loss.
‘However, other stars will appear, as we have seen in racing’s history with figures like Fred Archer, Willie Carson or Lester Piggott. We have the best jockeys in the world. All we need is one of them to ride seven winners at Cheltenham or Ascot!’
Some, though, believe that this is au revoir from Dettori, and not goodbye. Bill Esdaile’s Square In The Air PR agency operates extensively in racing. He said: ‘He will leave a hole but not an irreplaceable one. No one is bigger than the sport. When David Beckham retired, football didn’t end.
‘The key to Frankie’s profile was a moment of brilliance when he rode all seven winners for his Magnificent Seven at Ascot in 1996. With a bit of personality and star quality, that burst him into the limelight.
‘The star might not even be riding yet who will replace Frankie Dettori, but I believe that void may now not need filling for at least a couple of years because he will still be doing the rounds.’
Nick Attenborough says Dettori is a massive loss but that other stars will appear
David Stevens, of bookmakers Corals, agrees. ‘Over his career Frankie has been both our greatest asset and our biggest nemesis.
‘But punters will move on and have their favourites.
‘We fully expect to see him riding in this country next summer. We don’t think we have seen the last of Frankie Dettori at Royal Ascot. If he rides in the Kentucky Derby next May, we expect to see him here in June.
‘If anything, he will arguably come back bigger than ever because it will have such a novelty factor to it. In an incredible way, the biggest may be yet to come – Frankie returning from Hollywood, the conquering hero.’
For now, the conquering hero has wrapped up at Newmarket. His final mount Henry Adams finished fourth in the Dewhurst Stakes. A final chapter in the career of Frankie Dettori? Don’t bet on it.