British-based Frankie Dettori flew to Hong Kong to accept the 2018 Longines World’s Best Jockey Award last night (Friday, December 7), having first won the accolade in 2015.
The 47-year-old jockey won eight of the world’s Top 100 Group or Grade One races aboard five different horses this year.
The qualifying victories came in the Prix Ganay – Prix de l’Inauguration de ParisLongchamp (Cracksman), Investec Coronation Cup (Cracksman), St James’s Palace Stakes (Without Parole), Gold Cup (Stradivarius), Qatar Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe (Enable), QIPCO Champion Stakes (Cracksman), Breeders’ Cup Mile (Expert Eye), and Longines Breeders’ Cup Turf (Enable).
The scoring process rewards jockeys for finishing in the top three, giving Dettori a total of 128 points during 2018, with Oisin Murphy second on 114 points and another dual winner of the award, Ryan Moore, third with 112 points.
The Longines World’s Best Jockey Award was established in 2014. Moore was successful in the inaugural year and in 2016, while Hugh Bowman took the title in 2017.
Dettori, interviewed after receiving the award during the gala dinner of the Longines Hong Kong International Races at the Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre, asked what the secret of his phenomenal success has been replied: “Luck.”
“I am very lucky – John (Gosden) has been instrumental all this year. He is a genius of a trainer – there are no words to describe how good he is.
“We have got a chemistry together, there are a fantastic set of owners and the horses do the talking.
“I feel very at ease when I ride for John because we are from the same page. It is like Ferguson and Man United – it just works.
“What I have achieved this year, is mainly due to him – he has prepared and trained horses for me to ride to win. Without him, this would not have been possible.
“This year has been magic – when you look at the horses that we had, it was really mind boggling. To have one of those horses in any year you would think was great, but to have all those horses in one year and manage to keep them apart was magic.
“I am fortunate enough to have ridden such great champions this year that I have to pinch myself and think how lucky I have been.
“I am not new at this now. I have been doing it for a few years. You are only as good as the horses you ride, the trainers you work for and the owners that give you the opportunities.
“I have managed to win most of the major races around the world so I know how hard it is. It took five great horses for me to win this championship.
“The reason I am humble is that I am not going to be here forever doing this job so I am trying to enjoy as much as I can the last few years of race riding.
“I feel very satisfied that in this latter part of my career I have manged to get such a big accolade as Longines Best Jockey.
“It means a lot to me. I have done 31 years as a professional and it is fantastic to be crowned the Longines World’s Best Jockey again in 2018. I am very happy.”
Asked what he thought about when going down to the start in big races, he reacted immediately: “I feel scared!”
After consideration, he added: “I enjoy it, but I would be lying to say that I wasn’t nervous. The day I stop being nervous or being excited will be the day I probably have to give up.
“I feel in the zone with the horse and once we are out there – me and the horse – I just try and work out how to win the race so all distractions go out of the window and I try to enjoy the moment.
“There is great excitement, a lot of pressure and nervousness. I like all that and try to channel it in a good way.”
He believes in being open to learning: “You never stop improving – every horse is different – you have to find the key for all of them so the challenge never stops.
“You never stop learning. If I say I have learnt everything that will be the day I stop improving.
“This award means a lot – I am 47 so I am towards the twilight of my career. This has been one of my best years – indeed, I cannot think of a better year at the moment – 1996 was also great, as was 2015 when I won by first Longines World’s Best Jockey Award.
“I am very proud – it is not easy as there are so many good jockeys around the world. Thanks go to the Hong Kong Jockey Club for putting on this beautiful gala dinner and I have to say thanks to Longines too because during the last five years they have do so much for racing, opening it up to so many more people.
“Let’s hope they are going to carry on the sponsorship for many, many years.
“I am fortunate to really enjoy what I do and maybe I have got the experience. When you are young, you are kind of happy-go-lucky and you think everything is easy.
“At my age, you really understand the importance and I am so lucky to be associated with this great animal, the racehorse.
“If I had to pinpoint one race this year it would be the Arc. Enable was the first horse to win the Arc at two different tracks, Chantilly and Longchamp – she had an 11-month lay-off so it was touch and go to get her there as best we could.
“In the space of three weeks, to win a prep race and then the Arc was a pretty amazing job by John Gosden and the filly herself. There was a lot of pressure – I felt the weight of the world and I didn’t sleep for a week, but we got the job done.
“The victory meant a lot to me and the all the team around me – it was very emotional. No horse has ever won three Arcs – Winx managed to win four Cox Plates which is remarkable.
“It is very difficult – just the fact that Enable stays in training is a plus – thank god she is because I have so much to look forward to – and let’s hope she stays injury-free and we get to enjoy her greatness again next year.
“Then we went to America and broke the Breeders’ Cup hoodoo as no horse previously had won an Arc and then the Breeders’ Cup Turf in the same year. That is how special she is. It is a great responsibility to ride her. Those kind of horses take you to a place of adrenalin and excitement that no other horses can so you get to care about them more.
“They feel part of you – Enable is pretty amazing – she has been a star for me. She can also be a nightmare in the mornings because she is very laidback and she shows nothing. With her, you just have to go with instinct. John does the training and I go with the feel. We got her to the Arc as fit as we could after nearly a year off. We pulled it off, winning the Arc.
“Cracksman won the Coronation Cup and the Champion Stakes which was his last race and probably his best performance. Then there was Without Parole and Stradivarius who dominated and was unbeaten through the season in all the staying races. Expert Eye was the cherry on the cake as he was a last-minute spare ride for me.
“I still have the love for the sport – I think that is very important – I have got a great team behind me and I enjoy what I do – I enjoy the horses, I enjoy competing and that is what keeps me going. I am always trying to find the next champion.
“Next year is a new page and I will try to win every big race and try to become the Longines World’s Best Jockey again.
“Until my body permits I am going to carry on riding – I have got no age at the moment when I will decide to stop. At the moment, I feel mentally strong and physically fit so I will take it a year at a time.”
The awarding of the Longines World’s Best Jockey is based upon performances in the 100 highest-rated Group One and Grade One races as established for the year by the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Rankings Committee. The scoring incorporates races from December 1 of the previous year until November 30 of the current year. Jockeys accrue 12 points for a win, 6 points for placing second, and 4 points for placing third.