Royal Ascot 2023

Dettori leaves Royal Ascot on a high

Frankie Dettori was presented with a bespoke number cloth and Moet Nebuchadnezzar following his final Royal Ascot ride in the Golden Gates Handicap.

The 52-year-old rode his first Royal Ascot winner in 1990 and signed off with another four victories this year, headed by a ninth Gold Cup on Courage Mon Ami, bringing his total at the meeting to 81 winners.

After his final ride, Dettori said: “I had lunch today with the King and the Queen, then to ride in the Royal carriage procession was amazing, one of the best things I have ever done.

“To watch the crowds from the procession, and the cheers for the King and Queen throughout, the whole way from Windsor Castle was incredible. The love people have for the Royals, children with flags and banners – it is amazing. I was told not to wave when in the procession, which I found really, really hard.

“And then I got here and rode five races back-to-back, some disappointments, but overall I enjoyed the day. I didn’t have time to reflect on any emotions because I was so busy. Of course I feel sad, but I’ve had a really good run at it. I probably will cry tomorrow, but at the moment I’m too tired.

“I’m pleased that I finished ahead of Ryan Moore [with more career Royal Ascot winners] because next year he will pass me. At the moment I’m second behind Lester Piggott and that is an honour.

“I’ve been so busy this week, and that’s been good because it kept my mind off sulking too much or getting too emotional. Five days has gone like a flash, but I have another four months of riding. America, Hong Kong and Melbourne Cup after the Breeders’ Cup.

“I would say my Royal Ascot highlight was when I won the first four races in 2019. I thought the grandstand was going to come down.

“It’s funny, when I walked into the room [weighing room] today I thought I was 16 again. When we are in there it’s like a timeless place – you never feel old. Ascot has been a lucky place for me – I’ve ridden some wonderful horses for great owners and trainers. I’ve been very lucky.

“It was probably a good thing that I didn’t win on my final ride because I don’t think I would have handled all the razzmatazz. I was able to walk back and be more relaxed and talk to Mark and Charlie Johnston. They said ‘bad luck and it wasn’t the fairytale you wanted’, but nevertheless I’ve had a great week with my family in this beautiful weather at this beautiful track.”