Vintage year yields career highlights for Frankie Dettori

EVEN though Frankie Dettori has been the face of racing for nearly three decades, it speaks volumes that he rates his recent exploits on Enable as career highlights.

Frankie Dettori celebrates his Arc win on Enable.
Frankie Dettori celebrates his Arc win on Enable.

A vintage year reached its climax when the superstar filly overcame an 11-month injury lay-off to win a second successive Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe – she held off Sea Of Class in a dramatic finish – before landing the Breeders’ Cup Turf in America.

“It was another amazing season and it was largely thanks to John Gosden and his team,” reflected 48-year-old Dettori, who is clearly relieved that Enable, also the winner of the 2017 Yorkshire Oaks, is staying in training when she turns five on New Year’s Day.

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“Enable was amazing. To win two Arcs on two different tracks (Chantilly and ParisLongchamp) was brilliant and then the Breeders’ Cup Turf on the back of it.

Enable recovered from injury to win the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in October under Frankie Dettori.

“We broke records going there and it is great she stays in training with a third Arc in mind. In 35 years nobody had won an Arc and a race at the Breeders’ Cup in the same year.

“Seven had tried and she was the first to do it. It was nice to showcase such a great horse around the world. Of course there was a little bit of pressure going into the Breeders’ Cup, and if I didn’t feel like it I wouldn’t be human.

“All the vibes beforehand were good and the only thing I was scared of was that no one had done it before. The Arc takes a lot more out of horses than you think, so it was nice to tick that box.

“I am 100 per cent happy she is back next year, as she is a star and a once-in-a-lifetime horse.”

In Enable’s absence, Dettori did not have to look too far to find a horse housed at Gosden’s Clarehaven Stables to perform consistently throughout the height of the summer.

He said: “Stradivarius was unbelievable. He is very brave and has got a massive heart.

“In the Gold Cup we knew we had a horse that wouldn’t go down without a fight and it was amazing that he won his connections the £1m (Weatherbys Hamilton) bonus at York.

“On Champions Day I was a bit scared about the ground, as he is much better when it is fast, but he showed his versatility that day. The targets will be the races he ran in this year and obviously the Gold Cup will be the main target, as long as he keeps sound and healthy.”

Dettori will be ever-thankful for the efforts of another faithful partner Cracksman, who has been retired to stud after three summers at the top.

He said: “Everyone says it was a bit of an up and down year for Cracksman, but he only got beat once and everybody slated him for it.

“The Prince of Wales at Royal Ascot was run on fast ground and that was not in his favour – and the winner Poet’s Word won the King George.

“He redeemed himself in the Champion Stakes and it was great he finished his career on a high.”

Although no longer having the services of Cracksman to call upon, Dettori could have a ready-made replacement in Too Darn Hot, who was superlative when winning the Champagne Stakes at Doncaster on St Leger day for composer Andrew Lloyd-Webber and his wife Madeleine before landing the Group One Dewhurst Stakes at Newmarket.

He said: “It wasn’t until he ran at Doncaster that I thought he could be something really special

“I had never won the Dewhurst and it has taken me 31 years to do it. My dad won it on Wollow and it was a case of another box ticked again.

“He has got a bright future and everything we have asked he has just done. He is tough, has speed and can quicken, which is everything you want from a horse with a bright future.

“The first target will be the Guineas, then we will see, but he is bred to stay, although until the Spring we won’t know.”

Having quashed rumours on Derby day at Epsom back in June that he was about to hang up his riding boots, the only thing Dettori has on his mind is celebrating the festive period with those closest to him.

He said: “This was my 31st year and next year will be my 32nd year, and those are pretty big numbers, so I’ve been around a bit. I will carry on as long as my body permits it.”

Harvey Smith turns 80 – see The Yorkshire Post magazine for an exclusive interview with the riding legend.