Frankie Dettori has not ruled out squeezing a Hong Kong stopover into his jam-packed farewell tour, with the Italian superstar confirming he is “going to keep everything open” as the curtain comes down on one of racing’s great careers.
Dettori has won a string of big races at Sha Tin, including three Hong Kong Cups, and snared the Longines International Jockeys’ Championship (IJC) three times.
“I’m not going to say no because obviously I’ve been riding a lot for [prominent Hong Kong owner] Marc Chan and there were talks that maybe Kinross might go to Hong Kong, but I haven’t thought that far. I’m not going to say no, but I’m not going to say yes,” Dettori said.
While the 52-year-old has indicated November’s Breeders’ Cup meeting in the United States could be his last, he has not put a hard date on his retirement and an appearance for December’s IJC and Hong Kong International Races could be the Jockey Club’s best chance of luring Dettori.
“At the moment, the Breeders’ is what I think is my end, but since it’s my last season, I’m going to keep everything open,” Dettori said, before giving an overview of what his final year of racing will look like.
“If I don’t find a superstar three-year-old who can have a shot at winning the Kentucky Derby, I’ll be back at Newmarket to ride Chaldean in the [2,000] Guineas [on May 6].
“Then we go onto the [Epsom] Derby and it will be my last Royal Ascot, so that’ll be another emotional moment because it means so much to me.
“There’ll be a lot of touring with France, Ireland, Italy – my native country, obviously – and then we get to the fall where I’ll probably have to have a day at Newmarket, where I’m from.
“Obviously, there’ll be another Arc – well, I hope so – and then after Champions [Day] I’m going to make my way to California two weeks before the Breeders’.”
Firstly though, Dettori partners the Caspar Fownes-trained Senor Toba in Saturday’s Group One Dubai Sheema Classic (2,410m) among seven rides on Dubai World Cup night at Meydan.
Senor Toba is one of five gallopers representing Hong Kong in the Middle East, and they experienced varying fortunes at Wednesday night’s barrier draw.
Senor Toba breaks from gate nine and is joined by Douglas Whyte’s Russian Emperor in the Sheema Classic, who has drawn nicely in three.
Fownes hopes ‘very good friend’ Dettori can get the best out of Senor Toba at Meydan
The John Size-trained Sight Success landed the attractive barrier 13 for the Group One Al Quoz Sprint (1,200m) down the Meydan straight, while Pierre Ng Pang-chi’s Duke Wai was not so lucky after receiving gate seven on a course that often favours runners near the outside rail.
Ng’s Glorious Dragon rounds out the Hong Kong assault on the mega-rich meeting, and the eight-year-old grey faces a momentous task from barrier 15 in a talent-laden Group One Dubai Turf (1,800m).
Meanwhile, Godolphin’s Charlie Appleby confirmed the horse who finished runner up behind Russian Emperor in February’s H.H. The Amir Trophy (2,400m) in Qatar, Warren Point, will head to Hong Kong for next month’s Group One QE II Cup (2,000m), while he is also considering a raid on May’s Group One Champions & Chater Cup (2,400m) with the four-year-old, plus his stablemates, Yibir and Rebel’s Romance.