Who better to get race riding pointers from than three-time champion jockey Frankie Dettori? Even better when he’s your dad, as young Rocco Dettori is finding, before he tackles the Shetland Pony Grand National at Olympia later this year.
The crowd-favourite Shetland Pony Grand National features competitors aged between 9 and 14 and under five foot (152.4 cm), race around the arena on a miniature course with jumps which mimic those seen at an Aintree Grand National. Much to the delight of his father, Rocco, 12, has qualified for Olympia, the pinnacle of the Shetland Pony Grand National calendar and will be racing each night at the venue. The London International Horse Show is expected to attract 90,000 visitors across seven days, between December 12 and 18.
The pair headed to Ascot Racecourse, and Frankie, who was riding a slightly smaller horse than he is used to, took his son out on the iconic Ascot racetrack to put him through his paces with the hope that Rocco can claim the ultimate prize at Olympia. Frankie is also going to Olympia, taking part in the Markel Champions Challenge, which pits flat jockeys against jumps riders in a relay showjumping contest.
“After winning here on Saturday it was really special to be able to bring Rocco here, his first time on a racetrack,” Frankie said of his Ascot visit.
“There has been more press interest in me today with Rocco, than there was on Saturday! Seriously though, we are really looking forward to going to Olympia together for the Markel Champions Challenge to support the Injured Jockeys Fund and of course the Shetland Pony Grand National.”
After his Ascot ride, Rocco said: “I can’t wait for Olympia in December and I really want to win. I have loved every minute of being at Ascot and I think it would be fair to say I beat my Dad fair and square on the racetrack.”
Frankie will face stiff competition as ‘AP’ McCoy, 20-time Champion jockey and legend of the jump racing world, is preparing to step out of retirement to rival the world’s most famous flat jockey at Olympia. In a bid to execute their best performance, both jockeys and their subsequent team members will have specialist coaching from top international show jumpers.
Olympia’s Race Night on Friday, December 15, will host an entire evening of racing themed excitement. Featured on the night is an appearance by racing legend Bob Champion whose charity, The Bob Champion Cancer Trust, is supported by The Shetland Pony Grand National.