Frankie Dettori rubbishes any retirement talk as he fights back tears after emotional Newmarket winner | The SunJune 25, 2022
FRANKIE DETTORI ended a week of hell the way only he knows how -with a flying dismount.
You just can’t keep a good man down — let alone the world’s most famous jockey — and the Italian showed his old boss John Gosden what he’ll be missing as he rode Lezoo to an emotional win.
It might have only been a Listed race, but it had a lot more riding on it less than 24 hours after downhearted Dettori and his once-trusted guv’nor Gosden agreed to go their separate ways.
The crisis talks were over and Dettori, 51, was keen to end any speculation he was about to call it a day.
Here he put himself in the shop window — if he ever needed to — and gave his adoring fans something to cheer. And boy, did they lap it up.
But forget the racing, the only chatter on track surrounded that man Dettori — the way it always has been.
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Even before the first race a couple of punters had gathered by the winners’ enclosure to get their spot. They wanted to see Dettori.
He knew the spotlight was on him and had even brought two discreet security guards with him.
When he first appeared it was short and sweet.
“I know what you’re all going to ask me! But I’m not retiring,” he laughed.
On the outside he appeared his usual bubbly self, but for someone so used to being in the limelight, he was clearly uncomfortable.
Looking stressed, tired and nervous he explained his plans to ride in Turkey, Germany and America in the coming weeks.
Fiddling with his hands and twitching from foot to foot, he shot back into the weighing room when a couple of questions were fired at him.
He said: “I don’t know who I’m going to be riding for yet, I’ve only been free for 24 hours!”
He isn’t usually one for scripts, but this time he came prepared with what he wanted to say and it was a Dettori we’re not used to seeing.
But if he’d planned his day in his head, he could not have asked for a much better one.
As he entered the parade ring with a handful of other jockeys, the punters had again gathered to see their favourite.
They clapped as he came out and Dettori shook a few hands before Will Buick gave him a quick hug . . . and no doubt a bit of stick.
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But then it was game time and, no matter what Gosden might think, Dettori looked very much in the zone as he was legged up on Lezoo.
Perhaps on purpose, this is Dettori after all, he was the last to go out after an extra lap of the parade ring.
“Go on Frankie,” was the cry every five seconds or so from the punters. It was clear whose side they were on. Dettori blew one lucky lady a kiss.
The rest, as they say, went like a dream. From a clean break, Dettori kept Lezoo in behind the leaders.
As the field came into the final two furlongs he moved Lezoo to second and soon cruised into the lead.
He might have been on the best horse but this was vintage Dettori, winning when it mattered.
Lezoo was punted off the boards and as the pair came back into the winners’ enclosure, Dettori was fighting back the emotions. Suddenly a run-of-the-mill race meant the world. Never have I heard a cheer like it at the July Course.
Of course what came next was what the crowd had waited for, the trademark flying dismount.
It was a far from perfect landing, but it’s been a turbulent week after all.
He said: “That reception was very special . . . I’ve got great fans.”
‘What a way to come back,’ quipped one reporter.
“I’ve not been anywhere!,” fired back Dettori. “But I’m really touched by that, it was something else.”
This was the Dettori we know. Off script and loving life in the winners’ enclosure. The place he has made his own over a 35-year career at the top level.
After posing for the usual photographs and a few more cheers, that was it for Dettori and he zoomed off.
Gosden, 71, arrived at the racecourse soon after his former jockey disappeared.
No doubt he had seen the previous race and the joyous celebrations.
Maybe he watched through gritted teeth, but he was far from hiding and ready to play the pantomime villain and take the flak.
Dressed in a bright white suit jacket and panama, he hardly came in camouflage.
With wife Rachel Hood at his side, Gosden seemed in a good mood, laughing and joking with his owners.
As a gaggle of reporters approached him he knew what was coming.
“I’ve got nothing to say, come on chaps” he laughed.
Gosden might have been chuckling, but Dettori certainly had the last laugh.
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