York Ebor festival

Frankie Dettori: 'If a big enough offer comes, I might consider it. But it's got to be big! Big!'

Frankie Dettori celebrates after riding Absurde to win the Sky Bet Ebor on his final day at York
Frankie Dettori celebrates after riding Absurde to win the Sky Bet Ebor on his final day at YorkCredit: Alan Crowhurst

So well is Frankie Dettori's retirement year going, it must now be obvious to him that he really ought to do it all again next year. 

If Dettori does change his mind and decides to retire for a second time in 2024, he can use what happened on Sky Bet Ebor Saturday as good reasoning. 

This was his final afternoon on the Knavesmire. Following yet another major success on the simply wonderful Kinross, Dettori took his mount back up the track and then spent a lot of time waving. On his return to the winner's enclosure, he milked the moment for everything it was worth, mindful that his Ebor partner Absurde had the widest draw in a 22-runner handicap. He did not expect to win again but he won. He keeps winning. Could he possibly now keep going?

For now it's just a fine topic for laughter but the reality is Dettori is in utterly sensational form. On Wednesday he was exquisite from the front aboard Mostahdaf. Every bit as impressive but in different ways was his performance aboard Absurde. As when winning last year on Trawlerman, he stayed wide through the opening furlongs and, in another mirror image of the Ebor of 12 months ago, he somehow managed to steal victory on a horse who was swamped by two opponents after leading into the closing stages. 

Frankie Dettori: won the Ebor on Absurde
Frankie Dettori punches the air as Absurde passes the post an Ebor heroCredit: Alan Crowhurst

On this occasion Dettori did all that after being required to run to the start alongside a stayer Willie Mullins described as a monkey. Fortunately for Mullins, Absurde was about to be ridden by the best organ grinder in the business.

"It's amazing, isn't it?" said Dettori as the man who recently sold almost all his trophies waited to receive another trophy. "Mad! Mad! Everything is mad at the moment."

To be fair, it is a bit. That was even reinforced by the entirely appropriate name of his third Ebor winner, who also happened to be (according to the racecourse number crunchers) Dettori's 69th Ebor festival winner and his 187th York winner from 946 rides at the track. The five-year-old who put the seal on those figures – and most recently sixth of nine in a Galway novice hurdle – could now bid to give Dettori a first win in the Lexus Melbourne Cup. 

Should his connections accept the golden ticket offered by the Victoria Racing Club, Absurde would join stable companion Vauban, the ante-post Flemington favourite who beat him by seven and a half lengths at Royal Ascot.

"I'm just wondering how that will impact on Vauban's weight because he beat Absurde easily," said Mullins, his mind whirring as he spoke. 

"At the moment, I couldn't see any reason not to go to Melbourne. I've been telling the owners this is his novice hurdle season and we were heading to Tipperary for his next run. That might have to change. You could never get from Tipperary on October 1 to Flemington on November 7. I think I might prefer Flemington – and I would be delighted if Frankie was free to ride him."

Frankie Dettori displays his joy after Ebor victory with Absurde
Frankie Dettori sports a huge smile after completing another flying dismountCredit: Edward Whitaker (

Dettori sounded keen, although he also sounded puffed, partly because of his pre-race exertions. "I'm 52! I had to ask for water when I got to the start," he said, having just mopped up his second £500,000 prize of the afternoon, three days on from claiming the £1 million Juddmonte International.

Assuming Jim Crowley does not decide to retire with more haste than the fella on the farewell tour, Dettori will not get any more chances on Mostahdaf. He will, however, have a few more opportunities with Kinross, who maintained the astounding form of Ralph Beckett in the Sky Bet City of York Stakes. 

Twenty minutes earlier, the trainer had landed Goodwood's Celebration Mile with Angel Bleu, owned, like Kinross, by Dettori's Hong Kong-based friend Marc Chan. As icing on the latest Beckett-based cake, Chan's Lezoo bagged a Listed event at Newmarket 55 minutes later.

"After one got beat last night at Newmarket, I walked out and swore," said Beckett. "I had to have a word with myself afterwards because the last two months have been extraordinary.

"I think the horses have just been really healthy. I haven't had to gallop them too often because they've been so healthy. I've been able to run them, run them, run them. It's that old thing, when the ball's at your feet, you have to kick it. 

"Other than the Covid year, I can't remember a time when everything we sent out kept winning. I mean, it wasn't forecast to rain at Goodwood today but we got half an inch, which was exactly what Angel Bleu wanted. That's a good example of everything going your way. How lucky were we?"

Frankie Dettori pleases the Ebor day crowd with a flying dismount from Kinross
Frankie Dettori soaks up the acclaim after winning on KinrossCredit: Edward Whitaker

Lady Luck certainly smiled on Beckett when Kinross came into his life.

"We'll never have another one like him," he said, his voice filled with affection. "It would be impossible. We just couldn't find another one like him if we trained for another 25 years. His constitution is excellent but he's happiest when on a racecourse. He really is. You can see it in him. He's a nightmare to saddle but that's only because he loves being at the races."

Dettori still seems to quite like it as well.

"I'll stay until Cheltenham," he shouted across to Mullins before laying some cards on the table when asked by journalists about the prospects of him continuing to ride beyond Kinross's appearance in December's Hong Kong Mile.

"I've put it out there but the phone is still silent," he said. "I keep saying to you guys, if a big enough offer comes, I might consider it. But it's got to be big! Big!"

The word was shouted with fun and force. Perhaps someone with very big pockets and a very big offer might listen. For although another goodbye this might have been, Dettori ain't finished yet.

Members' Club Ultimate subscribers can read more writing by Lee Mottershead here:

William Haggas: 'You've got to want to be champion, and I did last year, but I'm a realist' 

'Legacy is nothing, it's bollocks, nobody will remember me in decades to come' - inside the mind of Sir Mark Prescott  

Archie Watson: 'I can see I'm not the most approachable - but I'm essentially a good bloke when you get to know me' 

Frankie Dettori: 'If I make a balls-up, who cares? I'm about to retire anyway' 

'I was a stiff, silver-spooned Pom and he couldn't wait to rip the s**t out of me' - meet the Englishman abroad who changed minds and methods 

Martin Pipe: 'I wanted to commit suicide. I really did, knowing the world was against me'  

Nico de Boinville: 'I guess I could change my accent but I am who I am - I don't worry about what people think of me' 

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