There was no fairytale finale for Frankie Dettori in the Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe, although the weighing-room legend was still able to leave ParisLongchamp with a smile on his face.
His final ride in the mile-and-a-half showpiece came aboard Free Wind, but as the John and Thady Gosden-trained mare was double-figure odds against a hot favourite in Ace Impact, a dream farewell always appeared unlikely.
And so it proved as after travelling well on the heels of the leaders in the early stages, Free Wind found it tough going in the sprint to the line and was left well behind brilliant winner Ace Impact in 13th place.
“I had no pressure today, I didn’t feel it,” said Dettori, who will retire at the end of the year.
“I got a lovely slot behind Westover, I knew he would take me there. When he got to the straight they quickened a little bit and left me there, but I really enjoyed it. The Arc has been a great race for me, it has been a good journey, but I’m bowing out with a smile on my face.”
Dettori, who plans to hang up his saddle after riding at Hong Kong’s International meeting in December, bows out the winner of six Arcs – making him the most successful rider in the race’s glorious history.
His first victory came aboard Lammtarra in 1995, with Sakhee’s six-length demolition job in 2001 quickly followed by Marienbard’s unexpected victory a year later.
However, Dettori then had to wait until 2015 when he produced a peach of a ride from a wide draw on Golden Horn, before Enable completed a double in 2017 and 2018, sealing her status as one of the best racemares of all time.
Dettori entered the stalls for the Arc on no less than 34 occasions and could reflect with satisfaction on his final spin.
He added: “This morning I was sad, but now that I have got going a bit I can feel the adrenaline kicking in and the competition. I will miss it, for sure.
“It’s all been great, six Arc wins, what can you say? I’ve ridden some great champions and riding in it 34 times is a record in itself.”