All good things come to an end. Hot on the heels of Frankel’s retirement the announcement came yesterday that Frankie Dettori would no longer have a retainer with Godolphin after riding in the famous blue silks since the organisation was set up 18 years ago.
That’s not to say he won’t ride for them again, but next season he will operate as a freelance, leaving Mickael Barzalona and Sylvestre de Sousa as the two retained riders. Both Dettori and Godolphin were emphasising the good times, and were keen to make it clear that there had been no falling out between them.
Dettori said, “I have had 18 wonderful years. Godolphin has been a major part of everything I have achieved in racing and I have loved every minute of it. Sheikh Mohammed has been an unbelievable boss to me. He had the confidence to take me on board when I was young and we smashed every record together.”
Dettori has many highlights from his Godolphin career, including his and their first Classic winner in the 1994 Oaks on Balanchine. In total he has ridden 110 Group 1 winners for the organisation.
Speaking for Godolphin, racing manager Simon Crisford said, “We have had a tremendous association with Frankie over many years. He has achieved so much on behalf of Godolphin and has made the difference between winning and losing on so many occasions in the world’s biggest races. Frankie is looking for a fresh challenge and we felt that the retainer was not really working so this is the best way forward.”
Earlier in the year Dettori had said he wanted to take his tally for Godolphin to over 1,000 winners, though that is now perhaps unlikely.
In May we suggested on Geegeez that Dettori’s days as principal jockey for Godolphin were numbered, a view shared by Cornelius Lysaght of the BBC. He said, “This news comes as no surprise. With Mickael Barzalona and Silvestre de Sousa now entering calculations when Godolphin's mounts are allocated, Dettori has found himself regularly sidelined. It has been pretty obvious that the Italian has been unsettled, to the extent that he felt able to take the ride on Camelot for Godolphin's arch rivals at Coolmore in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe.”
Whilst Dettori will be a freelance rider as far as Godolphin is concerned, there are already rumours that he may link up with Pearl Bloodstock and Qatar Racing. David Redvers, racing manager for Sheikh Fahad Al Thani of Qatar fuelled those when he said, “I think we’ll be in a position to make an announcement at the end of the week.” That would go some way to compensate for the loss of the £1m a year his Godolphin fee is reputed to be worth.