DOMINIC KING: The penny has dropped for fantastic Frankie Dettori

DOMINIC KING: The penny has dropped for fantastic Frankie Dettori… retiring jockey wells up after winning his final race at Deauville

  • Frankie Dettori is set to retire in November and rode at Deuville for the final time
  • The jockey triumphed in the Jacques La Marois on his super filly Inspiral
  • Watch the first full episode of Mail Sport’s podcast ‘It’s All Kicking Off’ here 

Frankie Dettori had done one of those flying dismounts that delight a giddy crowd and landed alongside his super filly Inspiral.

The pair had just won the Group One Prix Jacques La Marois, as they had done 12 months ago, and Dettori put his head into Inspiral’s neck and stretched an arm around to give her a hug. She had deserved this public display of affection, such was the swaggering manner of her success.

It’s not uncommon for Dettori, racing’s great showman, to do this in the aftermath of a big win but this time there was a difference. He didn’t want to take his head away and face the crowd. There were, evidently, tears in his eyes.

This was Dettori’s final ride at Deauville, the picturesque track in Northern France. He’s got accustomed to the last this and the last that in his retirement season but, for some reason, it felt like this was the day when the penny really started to drop that his joyride is really about to end.

Wherever Dettori looked, there were faces who have been there helping him along the way. Trainer John Gosden, who had expertly coaxed Inspiral into top form 11 days after she had a set-to with the outstanding colt Paddington on a cabbage-patch surface at Goodwood, smiled affectionately.

Frankie Dettori is set to retire in November and rode at Deuville for the final time

The jockey performed his flying dismount at Goodwood earlier this summer leaping off Epictetus

This will be his eighth triumph in the Jacquies La Marois at Deauville, with Dettori (pictured) riding Inspiral to the victory

The team behind Cheveley Park – in whose red, white and blue silks Inspiral races – had made the journey from Newmarket to provide support but, most significantly of all, there was Yves St-Martin, one of the all-time great jockeys, who had been a source of inspiration to a young Dettori.

His father, Gianfranco, told St-Martin when they were riding together in South Africa five decades ago that it was his intention to send his son to Newmarket to find his way in racing and how brilliantly he has done that. 

This, for example, was his eighth triumph in the Jacques La Marois, one of the defining mile races of the campaign.

Dettori, an evergreen 52, might know the time is right to stop riding but, as he tried to gather his thoughts after steering Inspiral through the field the way a motorcyclist can weave through a traffic jam, there was no doubting that reality is biting.

‘Give me a minute,’ he asked, as he tried to articulate what was going through his mind. ‘I’m going to have to stop (talking)… Listen, it’s hard not to cry. It’s the stuff of dreams, really. Yeah… It’s fantastic. I’m so emotional.’

He might know how to play a crowd and deliver a one liner to break the mood but the Italian wasn’t putting this on. It was, perhaps, the presence of the now 81-year-old St-Martin – as well as all his weighing room colleagues coming out to pose for pictures – that had set him off.

There will, inevitably, be more tough days ahead for this emotional soul but tough was not something you could say this race was: Inspiral, a beautiful daughter of Frankel, could be called the winner around three furlongs from home.

The jockey admitted that he was ‘so emotional’ following the race at Deauville and was seen soaking up the atmosphere around him

Your eye was instantly drawn to Dettori changing lanes to get the best of the squashy ground and as soon as he began to make his challenge, there was to be no stopping him; she made a mockery of 8/1 odds, comfortably keeping 2/1 favourite Big Rock at bay; David Simcock’s redoubtable charge Light Infantry finished third, running with credit.

Cheveley Park director Richard Thompson said: “It was a brave, brave call. She ran in the Sussex 11 days ago and, although she didn’t have much of a race, to come back and win this again is absolutely fantastic. What a day.

‘She’s a proper individual and she’s had some difficult days on the racecourse but she’s had great ones too. She’s so talented and when it goes for her, as it did here, she’s just in a different league.’

You could say the same about her jockey.

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