Frankie Dettori and Davy Russell: A fond farewell to two contrasting horse racing legends

Two huge names in horse racing history announced their retirement this week, and our racing analyst Andrew of Fiosrach pays tribute to their contrasting careers and personalities.

Frankie Dettori and Davy Russell, one a flat racing legend, the other a star of National Hunt racing stunned the sport by announcing their retirements this week.

The announcements, like the jockeys themselves, could not have been more contrasting, with Frankie not actually hanging up his silks until the end of next season, which gives him (and us) a full year of farewells to look forward to.

Davy Russell, on the other hand, announced his retirement after winning a minor race at Thurles with as little fuss as his wonderfully understated riding style.

The comment about Dettori's farewell tour is not a criticism, it is just a contrast of approach.

Frankie has always been an entertainer with his flying dismounts after winning a Group 1 and his superb interaction with the media. Racing would be (and will be) in a far worse place without his bubbly personality and boundless enthusiasm.

Who among British Flat Racing jockeys can replace his showbiz approach?

Oisin Murphy was adept at handling the media and spoke well when interviewed, but his well-publicised demons may have done himself and his sport more damage than can be recovered.

The simple truth is that Frankie Dettori is irreplaceable and no-one should try to be a Frankie duplicate.

Dettori has won a vast number of Group 1 races all round the world, including no fewer than 20 English Classics and a record six Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe.

He is likely to be best remembered for his Magnificent Seven in September 1996, when he went through the card at Ascot to go down in racing folklore and earn one lucky punter a cool half a million pounds in the process.

The bookmakers will certainly be delighted to see the back of Frankie Dettori from a revenue perspective.

Davy Russell could not be a more contrasting personality, despite being more than capable of handling the media.

In the saddle, Davy had the ability of a natural horseman to sit still when approaching an obstacle and that helped his mount relax and conserve energy.

Any horse he rode at the Cheltenham Festival was always worth an extra look, as he managed to get horses to settle for him much better than any other jockey.

Many of us were surprised when he came back after having broken vertebrae in his neck, but looking back it appears that Davy wanted to go out on his own terms rather than through injury.

He did so in style, announcing his decision at Thurles after guiding Liberty Dance to victory for Gordon Elliot, a fitting finale after the same trainer had given Russell his two biggest triumphs when piloting Tiger Roll to successive Grand National successes in 2018 and 2019

In the space of a few days, two of the all-time horse racing greats announced their departure from the saddle, and hopefully both will enjoy good health to make the most of their well-deserved retirements.

The rest of us will be left with a massive gap in our beloved sport, but more importantly, also with a host of wonderful memories.

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