Racing greats pay tribute to Frankie Dettori after his retirement plans are announced

The great and the good of racing have hailed Frankie Dettori after the Italian decided to retire at the end of next year.

Having spent a large part of his career as first jockey to Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin operation, Dettori has in the most part been in direct opposition with Aidan O'Brien and the Coolmore team.

With that in mind the pair may seem an unlikely alliance, but they have combined for a handful of significant big wins over the years, including three British Classic triumphs.

The first of those came in the 2005 St Leger with Scorpion, while the other two were achieved just last year, with Mother Earth landing the 1000 Guineas and Snowfall trouncing her rivals in the Oaks.

O'Brien not only paid tribute to Dettori's talent in the saddle but his impact on the sport as a whole.

"Frankie is a brilliant rider and we had some great days together," the Ballydoyle handler said.

"He gave his all and for him to be riding at that level for so long is really incredible.

"He is an incredible rider and has given so much to the whole sport - it's unbelievable.

"We were lucky he rode so much for us, I suppose."

Dettori spoke little English when first touching down in Britain as a teenager, at which time fellow Italian and leading trainer Luca Cumani took him under his wing.

Cumani provided the jockey with his first win in Britain aboard Lizzy Hare at Goodwood in 1987 and they also enjoyed other major wins together, most notably with Markofdistinction in the Queen Anne Stakes and QEII in 1990.

Of Dettori's announcement, Cumani said: "It is sad. We all knew this day would come, but it is sad to know it is now - especially as he is riding in such a beautiful way still.

"You just take it for granted that a talent like his would be around forever, but unfortunately it is not to be and he goes out on his own choosing. So it is sad, but I am glad for him that he has been able to make his own decision.

"What makes him so good is first of all his love for the horse and love for racing. Secondly his balance and his way of getting horses to do what he wants them to do - his ability to transmit his will to win through the reins and into the brain of the horses.

"I'm obviously very proud as he was like a child to me at the beginning and so I'm very proud of all of his successes and the great things he has done in his life within racing.

"We've had some fantastic times together and it's sad because it is an end of an era, but it is an era which he has filled with his presence and with great skill."

Johnny Murtagh spent much of his time riding against Dettori and the pair have become close friends.

Murtagh told ITV Racing: "I love the guy, I think what he has done for racing is unbelievable - he's brought it to the next level.

"I've ridden against him for years. The first time I rode against him was in 1989 and we went on a trip together to Japan and he was special then - he was different.

"The balance he had, great style, strong on the left, strong on the right and just a brilliant, brilliant jockey.

"And outside of that he is just a brilliant man, he's a very warm and fun guy to be around, everyone loves him and it's the end of an era. Racing has been very good to him, but he has been very good to racing."

Sir Anthony McCoy retired in 2015 after being crowned champion jump jockey 20 times.

He said: "The hardest thing as a sportsman is knowing when to say stop.

"It's about beating the clock and Frankie is beating the clock. He is racing's Lionel Messi. You can't teach a kid to ride like Frankie Dettori."

William Buick was crowned champion Flat jockey for the first time this year and currently has the top job at Godolphin in Britain.

Buick admits he has idolised Dettori for years, telling Sky Sports Racing: "I've told Frankie this, but when I grew up in Norway I had a picture on my wall of him winning on Dubai Millennium at Ascot.

"Frankie was always a god - he was the one I always looked up to and never really thought about being able to compete with.

"I eventually started working for Andrew and Ian Balding and they always said 'everything you do, just watch what Frankie does, how effortless he is and how natural he is on a horse'. That's for everyone to see.

"I'm very privileged to say I've shared a weighing room with him in most parts of the world and I'm also privileged to say he's become a very good friend since I started riding.

"When I first moved to Newmarket to start riding for John Gosden in 2010, Frankie was always there as a great sounding board for me so I'll always be grateful for that."

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