ED CHAMBERLAIN: Frankie Dettori's done a Fergie after retirement call

Frankie Dettori’s done a Fergie after coming out of retirement…and I’ll be astonished if he isn’t back racing at Ascot soon

  • Frankie Dettori cancelled his plans to retire as he plots a move to race in the US
  • The 52-year-old hasn’t confirmed his plans for Ascot but expect him to feature
  • Dettori has made a lasting impact on horse racing and it’s great to see him back 

What a week. From fixture lists to fences to Frankie, racing’s news agenda in recent days has moved like the final stages of a Group One sprint — it has been breathless with so much to digest.

The British Horseracing Authority’s plans for 2024 kicked things off, with the culling of 20 jumps meetings and 300 races the headline act. We’ve known for a while that something needed to be done but circumstances haven’t always made that possible.

Credit to BHA chief executive Julie Harrington and her team for trying to be innovative and looking at how to boost the sport and increase field sizes. There will be bumps in the road and it’s too early to say whether there will be lasting impact but it’s a positive first step.

One thing we can say for certain is that Frankie Dettori has made a lasting impact during his career and I’m not surprised he has stepped back from retirement. He’s done what Sir Alex Ferguson did in 2002 and realised he would have been calling it quits too soon.

His farewell tour has been too successful, with multiple Group One wins, and he will love the chance to ride in the United States. Will we see him back here next summer? He won’t commit to answering that but I’d say this: I’ll be astonished if he doesn’t ride at Royal Ascot.

Frankie Dettori has made a U-turn on his previous decision to retire from horse racing

Dettori’s farewell tour has been too successful, with multiple Group One wins, and he will love the chance to ride in the United States

I could have filled the page with those two subjects but the biggest news this week was the changes to the Randox Grand National, my favourite sporting event and the overriding reason I stopped fronting Premier League football to move to racing.

There has been opposition to cutting the field size from 40 to 34, shortening the run to the first fence and lowering some obstacles. 

Those within racing say when do we draw a line in the sand and stop trying to appease the unappeasable? Do we keep changing until we have nothing left?

This feels different. Something had to be done to secure the future of the Grand National. I will be honest: I found the first circuit of last season’s race, won so brilliantly by Corach Rambler, an uncomfortable watch, with so many horses falling or unseating.

Something had to be done to secure the future of the Grand National and the latest changes feel like a natural evolution

That is why I believe these changes, following the last alterations 10 years ago, feel like natural evolution. 

Reducing speed and changing position early in the race is the right thing to do to keep the National in rude health and maintain its position as one of the most popular sporting events of the year.

Aintree have done an incredible job, modernising and keeping the Grand National relevant over the last 20 years. To preserve that 10 minutes of sport that thrills, enthrals and captivates fans and families around the world — it will always need to change and evolve. It can’t be any other way.

Ed Chamberlin is a Sky Bet Ambassador.

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