Frankie Dettori says he feels no pressure as he bids to sign off his Dubai racing career in style by posting a record fifth win in Saturday’s $12million World Cup at Meydan racecourse.
Dettori, who has enjoyed a successful winter in southern California riding at Santa Anita, is on board Country Grammer, his Bob Baffert-trained 2022 World Cup winner as he takes in what is effectively another leg of his worldwide farewell tour in his final year in the saddle.
Dettori’s long association with Sheik Mohammed’s Godolphin means Dubai has played a major part in the 52-year-old’s career.
The Italian rode in the first World Cup, in 1996, when he was unplaced on Saeed Bin Suroor-trained Halling.
Dettori has six other rides at the meeting, including John and Thady Gosden-trained Lord North in the Dubai Turf, a race the gelding won in 2021 and dead-heated for first in last year.
Frankie Dettori feels no pressure as he bids to sign off his Dubai racing career in style
Dettori said: ‘I worked for Godolphin for 18 years and spent many winters with my family here. My kids grew up here so it always feels emotional and special. This is no different. It is my last World Cup meeting. I ride two horses who have won here so there is extra pressure but I am looking forward to it.
‘I am not just thinking of my farewell. I am just thinking of the task ahead and doing well.’
Dettori’s three other World Cup wins came on Moon Ballad (2003) and Electrocutionist (2006), but it was his first on the brilliant Dubai Millennium (2000) — a jaw-dropping six-length win — which made the biggest impression.
He said: ‘Dubai Millennium was probably the best horse I have ridden. He was my first winner and it was also in millennium year so it was special.’
Dettori concedes when he split from Godolphin he thought his Dubai World Cup-winning days were over.
Country Grammer comes into the race on the back of a second place in last month’s furlong shorter Saudi Cup behind Panthalassa, who he faces again.
Country Grammer finished strongly that day, so the longer distance will be in his favour, but both colts will have to overcome difficult wide draws.
Dettori, who lies third in this year’s Santa Anita jockey standings with 21 wins from 121 rides and more than $1.6m in prize money, said: ‘I was outpaced around the home turn in the Saudi Cup. I thought I was in trouble but he does not know how to give up.’
Panthalassa is one of eight Japanese runners in the race but the rival which may offer the biggest threat to Dettori is Algiers, co-trained by Simon Crisford.
Dettori and Crisford were on the same side when the latter worked as racing manager for Godolphin.
Now training in Newmarket with son Ed, Crisford has prepared Algiers to easily win his two races this year on Meydan’s Dirt track.
Dettori celebrated his first World Cup win on the brilliant Dubai Millennium in 2000
He said: ‘Algiers loves the Meydan track and it has made a big difference to him. He has to back up his last two runs with a similar performance but is training well.’
The one consolation for Dettori is that James Doyle-ridden Algiers also has a wide draw.
Britain is strongly represented on the World Cup undercard.
George Boughey-trained Al Dasim heads the challenge in the six furlong Al Quoz sprint, while the Gosden-trained Mostahdaf and Ralph Beckett-trained Westover run in the 1m 4f Sheema Classic.