Frankie Dettori, Goodwood’s leading jockey, has a special affinity with the West Sussex racecourse, having ridden his first British winner there – Lizzy Hare on 9th June 1987.
The 44-year-old jockey said: “Twenty-eight years ago I had my first British winner at Goodwood and I will never forget that day. Since then I have had many Glorious Goodwood winners so it has been a lucky track for me and holds a special place in my heart.
“Ouija Board’s victory in the Nassau Stakes was probably my top victory at Goodwood because she was loved by everyone. She put up a tremendous performance and won after a great duel. It is what people in racing want to see – a super mare – and it was a very emotional day.”
He comes into this year’s Qatar Goodwood Festival in tremendous form.
Dettori remarked: “I could not have imagined at the start of the year what has happened in the last five weeks – it has been mad.
“To land on Golden Horn and take the Derby and then win the Diane before having a great Royal Ascot, getting my 50th success there and winning the Diamond Jubilee, and then Golden Horn showed how good he is when winning the Eclipse.
“What can I say – I could not have foreseen all that. Three years ago I was on the verge of retiring – I did not have a job and thanks to Sheikh Joaan he gave me a second chance – a lifeline – and here I am.
“Without Sheikh Joaan’s job, I would have probably carried on until the end of the season and then looked for some alternative jobs.
“Sheikh Joaan came with a good offer and his team of horses was expanding and he has brought me back to where I was a while ago.”
Star Of Seville is on target for the Group One Qatar Nassau Stakes, worth £600,000, on the final day of the Qatar Goodwood Festival, Saturday, 1st August, one of many races over the five days with much boosted prize money.
Dettori explained: “It is the plan for Star Of Seville to run in the Qatar Nassau Stakes. King Of Rooks will go for the Molecomb Stakes and Shalaa is in the Qatar Richmond Stakes, while there will be runners in the handicaps and I have some nice maidens to ride.
“Shalaa is John’s (Gosden) best two-year-old. I have been riding out there and when we had two in the race (Newmarket’s July Stakes) I had to go for the horse with the better form (Eltezam) but in my heart of hearts I knew he was a danger. Shalaa zoomed passed me and I said that was not meant to happen! The good thing about it is that I will ride him next time and I imagine he will be the favourite for the Richmond.
“We have got the trip right with Star Of Seville now. She is a mile and a quarter filly as she showed in the Musidora and the Diane – the mile and a half of the Oaks was too far. The Goodwood race is just what she wants. The Qatar Stewards’ Cup is on the same day which I have never won. If Charlie (Hills) runs his horse Magical Memory that should give me a good chance. I don’t have a ride yet in the Qatar Sussex Stakes.
“I am fit and well and if I carry on in such good form why will I not be riding at 50 which is only a number. You are only as old as you feel.”
Sheikh Joaan Al Thani is from Qatar and Dettori added: “Things are going great thanks to Sheikh Joaan and now the family has sponsored the Qatar Goodwood Festival with a huge injection of money.
“Goodwood was hard to ride before but now it will be extra hard with this extra money for the races! I am really looking forward to the Qatar Goodwood Festival – it is going to be a smashing meeting.
“Apart from Epsom, Goodwood is the hardest track to ride because of the undulations, draw and big fields – you can get everything right or you can get everything wrong – you have to be on your wits.
“Qatar is a force to be reckoned with – it is good for the sport and for everybody.
“I have ridden four Group One winners in five weeks – all the major races and officially on ratings I have been on the best horse in the world (Golden Horn). I am back with John (Gosden) and it is brilliant, I am enjoying everything and we are only halfway through the season. May it continue for a while.”