After an 18 year partnership, jockey Lanfranco (aka Frankie) Dettori and the Godolphin operation have parted company.
For years we have grown accustomed to Frankie riding for the Sheikh Mohammed operation. We have readily associated Dettori with the blue colour silks of Godolphin and to his flying dismounts when winning for his bosses.
But now, in a move I trailed on this site some weeks ago, the winning combination is no more. Frankie has ridden nine English classic winners for the Godolphin team. Their racing manager, Simon Crisford, announced the parting of the ways via the Godolphin website.
Crisford said: “We have had a tremendous association with Frankie over many years. He has achieved so much. However, Frankie is looking for a fresh challenge and we felt that the retainer was not really working, so this is the best way forward.
“We have had many great days together and we look forward to working with Frankie in the future and hopefully enjoying more success together. He remains a great friend – the difference next year will be that he will not be our retained jockey and will operate as a freelance instead.”
One of the lesser known roles for Simon Crisford was his management of Dettori’s moods. While the public only ever see the smiling Frankie persona in front of TV cameras, being Italian, he can be a volatile character.
When things do not go as he pleases he is prone to lose his temper and he does not, as the saying goes, ‘suffer fools gladly.’
Crisford was the man Godolphin employed to be with Dettori at the races. To make sure the talented jockey had everything he needed and to calm him down when the Dettori kettle threatened to boil over.
For his part Dettori said today: “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.
“I feel the time has come for a change. My position in the stable has changed a little bit and I need a new challenge.
“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. I will be forever grateful to him for everything he has done for me and for my family.”
Saeed bin Suroor trained the majority of the winners Frankie rode for the ‘boys in blue’.
He said: “We have been good friends and have travelled all over the world and have had great times. We have been like brothers. It is sad, but he is the best jockey in the world and I am sure he will do well also in the future.”
Some weeks ago I was asked why I was predicting the end of this beautiful relationship. Simple. Godolphin were putting the young precocious talent Mikael Barzalona in the saddle of some of their best horses. Frankie was fast becoming second choice jockey in all but name.
And Frankie has not been the force of old in the past season or two. Age is catching up on Frankie and, while he talks of riding competitively until he is 50; the 41 year old son of Italian jockey Gianfranco Dettori will now be able to pick and choose where he rides. He’ll be in demand on English soil and overseas. A number of trainers will be keen to hire him as a freelance jockey.
But we will not see any more flying dismounts into the arms of his wealthy former bosses.
He owes racing nothing. Almost single handedly he transformed the image of flat racing in his adopted country. People came to race meetings in their thousands because of Frankie and his public image. And, of course, his ability to ride stylishly and to win on some top class horses.
Many of my finest, most enjoyable winning punts in the past twenty years or more have returned me profit thanks to Frankie Dettori.
And he has not ridden his last winner.