Frankie Dettori cites Ronaldo in retirement decision as he explains SPOTY snub

Presenters introduced at BBC Sports Personality of the Year

Horse racing legend Frankie Dettori cited Cristiano Ronaldo when asked about his decision not to retire from the sport this season, before later explaining why he was not in attendance despite being nominated for the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award. The 53-year-old recently exited the Australian jungle on I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! and had already jetted off to Spain and apologised for not being at Tuesday’s ceremony.

Even though Dettori was one of the favourites to win the main award, he opted against travelling back to the UK to attend the event and instead spoke to host Clare Balding via a videolink.

Dettori explained that he had only a few days between leaving the ITV show and starting anew with his family in the US, so decided to spend some time on holiday instead. “As people know, I am emigrating to the USA and riding on Boxing Day, so I had to spend time with my family,” he said.

In October he abandoned his plan to retire and instead confirmed that he would be pursuing a new horse racing career Stateside, which will include racing at the famous Kentucky Derby next year.

Dettori also namedropped former Manchester United striker Ronaldo when asked about his decision to initially retire from horse racing. “At the beginning of the season, I was like I am 52,” he added. “I watched Ronaldo at the World Cup starting on the bench, I didn’t want to end like that. So I thought I’d call it quits and when I call it a day things will ease up.

“But the opposite happened, wherever I went I kept on winning. I did my farewells and I kept on winning and winning, and I thought ‘am I doing the right thing’.”

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Dettori apologised for not being at SPOTY in person, though claimed he already felt like a winner for being nominated. “I’m already a winner, to get into the last six, be a nominee, is great,” he said. “Apart from Stuart Broad, all the other nominees were not even born when I started!”

One of horse racing’s greats is set to move to southern California where he will focus on prolonging his career, but did apologise for leading supporters on who thought that he would be quitting for good earlier this year.

“Wherever I went, I kept on winning… then asked if I was doing the right thing but told everyone I was quitting,” Dettori explained. “I had to retire in Britain as they put so many farewell tours on for me, and gave me a statue at Ascot! The desire is still there, for I’m sorry everyone I shouldn’t have said I was retiring!”


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