x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

I can't afford to retire, says Frankie Dettori

Godolphin's senior jockey denies he is thinking about retiring and says he and fellow Godolphin rider Mickael Barzalona do not have a bitter rivalry.

Frankie Dettori, right, explains that he and Mickael Barzalona talk at the racetrack and that his fellow Godolphin jockey is only 20 and 'doesn't want to hang around with me – he does his own thing'.
Frankie Dettori, right, explains that he and Mickael Barzalona talk at the racetrack and that his fellow Godolphin jockey is only 20 and 'doesn't want to hang around with me – he does his own thing'.

Frankie Dettori has responded angrily to the media's continued speculation about his retirement plans and his relationship with Mickael Barzalona, his fellow Godolphin jockey.

It was inaccurately reported in the lead-up to the English Derby earlier this month that the 41-year-old rider was stepping down after 18 years with the Dubai-based operation.

Godolphin did not have a runner in the English Classic on June 2 and Barzalona was handed the ride aboard Kailani ahead of Dettori in the English Oaks the previous day.

The rumours gathered so much momentum that Simon Crisford, Godolphin's racing manager, was forced to call up Dettori and ask him to clarify his future with the organisation.

"I got a bit annoyed about all that," Dettori said Saturday. "People using me as a scapegoat because we didn't have a Derby runner. Why don't people get off my back and do something useful instead? Racing doesn't stop because I don't have a ride in the Derby.

"I'd love to have had one, but there were only nine runners and a lot of other jockeys didn't have a ride, either, and a lot of big owners and trainers didn't have a runner.

"It's over now, though, and it's time to kick on and ride out this storm, because I can't afford to retire. We live quite a high standard in my life and five kids are not cheap - and they're not going to get any cheaper."

Since Godolphin won the Dubai World Cup at Meydan Racecourse in March their fortunes have nosedived with their return to Europe.

Dettori's only ride at the highest level was when he finished last on Lyric Of Light in the English 1000 Guineas in May, while Barzalona has ridden only one winner for the private stable of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in the past two weeks. Silvestre De Sousa, Godolphin's third jockey, has not graced the winners' enclosure for 70 consecutive rides.

Godolphin's pretensions of competing at Group 1 level this season have been decimated by the injuries to fillies Gamilati and Discourse. They did not have a runner in the English 2000 Guineas either, suggesting they will be without a star colt from the Classic generation for the rest of the season.

"What can you do about it? We can't give up, there's no point pulling your hair out. If you have a bit of a crisis, you put your head down and carry on," Dettori added, in an interview with the Racing Post.

"The only problem is we don't have the good three year olds, but that happens. In two months' time the two-year-old races get started and all you need is one and off you go again.

"And it's not down to me to decide who rides it if we do find one."

Barzalona's promotion above Dettori for the ride on Kailani stemmed from Sheikh Mohammed himself, and the Italian rider made it clear how he and Barzalona operate together within team Godolphin.

"I've known Mickael the last three months and we talk to each other at the races," he said. "He's 20 years old and he doesn't want to hang around with me - he does his own thing. If I have a 10 minutes spare, I want to sit down, have a [drink] and watch the football - he probably wants to go and play pinball or tennis or squash or whatever."

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