Officials in Hungary have described Frankie Dettori’s appearance at Kincsem Park at the weekend as a “dream come true” after the Italian stole the show with a big-race double.
Dettori’s visit to Budapest was a somewhat unexpected stop on his farewell tour, but he proved a hit with his Hungarian fans as a bumper crowd flocked to the capital and were treated to not only the 52-year-old in winning action but his famous flying dismount celebration.
It was the first time British raiders had graced the Hungarian track during one of its feature weekends, and owner Fitri Hay’s support of the Autumn International Meeting was rewarded by winning both of the day’s features thanks to the assistance of the retiring weighing-room great.
After winning a local Group Two aboard Ian Williams’ Silent Film, Dettori then linked up Paul and Oliver Cole’s Splendent in the feature Kincsem Stakes – a result which delighted the hosts.
“It could not have gone any better and was a real success,” said Botond Kovacs, international liaisons officer at Kincsem Park.
“The Hays are absolutely marvellous people and they of course were delighted with the outcome of the races and also with our hospitality. I am trying to sound modest but we really did our best and of course Frankie was happy.
“He did not win on the four Hungarian horses he rode, but this is racing, and I do hope it is not the last time we host English-trained horses in Budapest.
“Of course we are looking forward to hosting Frankie when he has retired, we will welcome him with open arms at any time.
“The Hays and the four trainers from England were absolutely fantastic. Even the veteran trainer Paul Cole showed up and that was a real privilege for us. He is a real great name in racing and his family are wonderful people.”
Not only did Dettori delight his adoring Hungarian supporters by showcasing his famed talent in the saddle, he also got up close and personal with the locals as the queue for souvenir photographs stretched far across the grandstands.
Kovacs added: “People were enjoying it and Frankie was being stopped every single second.
“It’s different for a superstar to appear in a country he has never been rather than France, Ireland and England and everyone wanted their selfie with Frankie.
“He really is a superstar and was great, he was never fed up and smiling all the time – he is a great person and racing needs people like Frankie.
“The next task for racing is to try to come up with a person who equals Frankie. Frankie is the brand of horse racing.”
Officials hope the visit of Dettori and horses from Britain will help boost the profile of horse racing in Hungary and anticipate welcoming further runners from overseas in the future.
“It was a dream come true and I am really over the moon. It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” said Kovacs.
“We will have a meeting soon with the management of Kincsem Park to draw some conclusions and see where we can improve, but it really was a historic day for Hungarian racing.
“Horse racing is owned by the government and the minister of defence is in charge. He is a great man and loves his racing – he is a fanatic.
“In the last decade it is no secret there has been probably more downs than ups in Hungarian racing but now there is good prospects and we are really really happy.
“We would like to do our best to lift Hungarian racing to the standards we once had. Hungarian racing is almost 200 years old and we are still here after two world wars and every other type of hardship.”