Pay cut for Dettori as Al Shaqab give star rider a new contract
Frankie Dettori has agreed a new retainer with Al Shaqab Racing for 2018 and accepted a pay cut to reflect a UK string that has been reduced by a third from previous campaigns.
Under a one-year deal Sheikh Joaan Al Thani's racing operation will continue to have first claim on Dettori for their British-based horses, of which there will be around 60 in training, down from 90, with the sheikh having consolidated his racing interests in France.
It means Dettori, 47, is likely to be available more for John Gosden, whose team for 2018 includes the Oaks, King George and Arc winner Enable and Champion Stakes winner Cracksman, who was rated Europe's champion racehorse of 2017.
Dettori's manager Peter Burrell said: "Frankie's contract has been renewed. The contract is directly driven by the numbers of horses Al Shaqab have here.
"Frankie is looking forward to the association. He's had a lot of success for them. Another key part of his life is riding for John Gosden, so he has several places to focus on."
Burrell said he could not comment on the financial details but it is believed the jockey's six-figure salary has been halved.
Dettori has already ridden for Al Shaqab this year, partnering Toast Of New York in an disappointing attempt on the the world's richest horse race, the Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream Park on Saturday.
His contract was renewed against the backdrop of reports that Al Shaqab owed more than £1 million in unpaid bills, including to a number of leading trainers, which also fuelled speculation Dettori would not be kept on.
As a result Al Shaqab general manager Khalifa Al Attiya issued an apology, blaming a financial review, and gave an assurance the outstanding debts would be settled. It is understood some bills have now been paid.
Al Shaqab had 56 winners in Britain last year, the team's highest score since their launch, but the only Group victories were secured by runners from France, of which the highlight was Qemah's triumph in the Duke of Cambridge Stakes under Gregory Benoist, who is retained to ride a French string that exceeds 100.
Aljezeera, trained by Luca Cumani, and the William Haggas-trained Entsar mustered a Listed prize each from the British team compared to the three previous campaigns which featured Group 1 wins for Galileo Gold, Shalaa and The Wow Signal, all ridden by Dettori.
Aljezeera remains in training in Britain, where of this year's team only 12 are two-year-olds. Qaysaar, Msayyan, Qaroun and Fajjaj are among the most promising of the three-year-old division.
Al Shaqab racing adviser Harry Herbert said: "The sheikh very much wanted Frankie to stay on under a revised contract because of the numbers and Frankie was very pleased to do that. Everyone is very happy that he is still part of the team.
"I saw him in Miami at the weekend and he has never looked better. He looks unbelievably fit and hard and well, which is incredible for his age, dare I say it. He has a lot to look forward to this year with the big horses of John's and hopefully Al Shaqab can unearth a decent one too."
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