Dettori turns freelance after amicable split with Godolphin

In a move that did not come unexpectedly, Godolphin announced Sunday that Frankie Dettori will no longer serve as a retained rider for the stable. The popular Italian, who had been Godolphin's premier rider for 18 years, will now become a highly sought-after freelancer. On that basis, Dettori will continue to accept mounts for Sheikh Mohammed's flagship operation.

Racing observers have wondered about Dettori's status within Godolphin since earlier this year, when the team retained two up-and-coming jockeys in Silvestre de Sousa and Mickael Barzalona as full-time riders for the stable.

The rumor mill kicked up another gear more recently when Dettori, 42, picked up the mount aboard Camelot, owned by Godolphin's archrival Coolmore, in the Group 1 Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe on October 7.

"We have had a tremendous association with Frankie over many years," Racing Manager Simon Crisford told the Godolphin website. "He has achieved so much on behalf of Godolphin and has made the difference between winning and losing on so many occasions in the world's biggest races.

"However, Frankie is looking for a fresh challenge and we felt that the retainer was not really working, so this is the best way forward. We have had many great days together and we look forward to working with Frankie in the future and hopefully enjoying more success together.

"He remains a great friend," Crisford noted. "The difference next year will be that he will not be our retained jockey and will operate as a freelance instead."

"I have had 18 wonderful years," Dettori said. "Godolphin has been a major part of everything I have achieved in racing and I have loved every minute of it. I feel the time has come for a change. My position in the stable has changed a little bit and I need a new challenge.

"Sheikh Mohammed has been an unbelievable boss to me. He had the confidence to take me on board when I was young and we smashed every record together. I will be forever grateful to him for everything he has done for me and for my family."

Dettori captured 110 Group or Grade 1 races in the royal blue silks, including Godolphin's first classic victory aboard Balanchine in 1994, and was the regular rider of a host of stable stars, topped by the great Dubai Millennium.

"The whole team have been fantastic -- none of it would have been possible without them," Dettori said of Godolphin's dedicated staff.

Godolphin confirmed that Barzalona and de Sousa will serve as the stable's retained riders for the 2013 season. They will be teaming up with trainers Saeed bin Suroor and Mahmoud al Zarooni.

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