If Frankie Dettori could have scripted the perfect end to another scintillating campaign, then his exploits aboard Enable at the end of the year would not be far wide of the mark.
The enduringly-popular Italian enjoyed another 12 months crammed full of Group-race glory in 2018 – but among the many highlights, the second Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe success of Enable followed by victory in the Breeders’ Cup Turf shines brightest.
Dettori said: “It was another amazing season and it was largely thanks to John Gosden and his team.
“We had to wait a while to get Enable back, but then there was Cracksman, Stradivarius, Lah Ti Dar and obviously Too Darn Hot. We had the horses and they delivered throughout the season.
“Enable was amazing. To win two Arcs on two different tracks was brilliant and then the Breeders’ Cup Turf on the back of it.
“We broke records going there and it is great she stays in training with a third Arc in mind. In 35 years nobody had won an Arc and a race at the Breeders’ Cup in the same year.
“Seven had tried and she was the first to do it. It was nice to showcase such a great horse around the world. Of course, there was a little bit of pressure going into the Breeders’ Cup, and if I didn’t feel like it I wouldn’t be human.
“All the vibes beforehand were good and the only thing I was scared of was that no one had done it before – and that is always in the back of your mind.
“The Arc takes a lot more out of horses than you think, so it was nice to tick that box. I am 100 per cent happy she is back next year, as she is a star and a once-in-a-lifetime horse.”
In Enable’s absence, Dettori did not have to look too far to find a horse housed at Gosden’s Clarehaven Stables to consistently perform throughout the height of the summer, keeping the big-race victories steadily rolling in.
He said: “Stradivarius was unbelievable. He is very brave and has got a massive heart.
“In the Gold Cup we knew we had a horse that wouldn’t go down without a fight and it was amazing that he won his connections the £1million (Weatherbys Hamilton) bonus at York.
“On Champions Day I was a bit scared about the the ground, as he is much better when it is fast, but he showed his versatility that day.
“The targets will be the races he ran in this year and obviously the Gold Cup will be the main target, as long as he keeps sound and healthy.”
Dettori will be ever thankful for the efforts of another faithful partner, Cracksman, who after three seasons of lighting up racetracks has been retired to take up a career at stud.
He said: “Everyone says it was a bit of an up and down year for Cracksman, but he only got beat once and everybody slated him for it.
“The Prince of Wales’s was run on fast ground and that was not in his favour – and the winner Poet’s Word won the King George.
“He redeemed himself in the Champion Stakes and it was great he finished his career on a high.
“I rode him in the Derby, won a Voltigeur on him and won another Champion Stakes. He is a beautiful-looking horse and I don’t think I’ve ever ridden a horse with a stride that long, as he really could cover some ground. I am sure he will have a great career at stud.
“It was very sad in the Champion Stakes, as I knew it was the last time I was going to ride him. I am pleased he won, but I was sad that I was never going to get my leg across him again, as he has been so good to me.”
Although no longer having the services of Cracksman to call upon, Dettori, aside from having Enable to look forward to again, could in ante-post Qipco 2000 Guineas and Investec Derby favourite Too Darn Hot have a ready-made replacement.
He said: “The vibes were very good before Sandown (racecourse debut), but the ground was very soft that day, so it was hard to gauge. It wasn’t until he ran at Doncaster that I thought he could be something really special.
“I had never won the Dewhurst and it has taken me 31 years to do it. My dad won it on Wollow and it was a case of another box ticked again.
“He has got a bright future and everything we have asked, he has just done. He is tough, has speed and can quicken, which is everything you want from a horse with a bright future.
“The first target will be the Guineas, then we will see, but he is bred to stay, although until the spring we won’t know.”
Having recently turned 48, talk of retirement is never far away, but having quashed rumours he was about to hang up his riding boots on Derby day at Epsom back in June, the only thing Dettori has on his mind is celebrating the festive period with those closest to him.
He said: “This was my 31st year and next year will be my 32nd year, and those are pretty big numbers, so I’ve been around a bit!
“I will carry on as long as my body permits it. At the moment I just want to take a rest, put my feet up and spend some time with the family then start back in the new year.”