Frankie Dettori Profile
|Born||Dec 15, 1970|
The jockey who survived a plane crash has ridden the likes of Enable in a long, successful career.
Italian jockey Frankie Dettori is a global horse racing star known for his celebratory flying dismount.
Flamboyant Dettori has won many of the prestigious Group 1 events in world racing, including the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe a record six times, 14 Breeders' Cup successes, a trio of Dubai World Cups and the Epsom Derby twice.
It took Dettori 15 attempts to claim the English Derby, but he did so in sweet style in 2007 aboard the Peter Chapple-Hyam trained Authorized.
In September 1996, Dettori sent shockwaves across the sporting world by winning all seven races on Champions Day at Ascot, an achievement that came to be known as the 'Magnificent Seven'. The odds on Dettori's seven-timer were 25,051/1, landing a lucky punter who had backed the feat a cool £500,000.
Frankie Dettori's early career
Lanfranco 'Frankie' Dettori was born in Milan, the son of jockey Gianfranco Dettori, himself twice a winner of the 2000 Guineas. Frankie was sent to England at the tender age of 14 to work for trainer and fellow Milanese Luca Cumani in Newmarket.
His career is one of firsts, both in finishing position and record-breaking achievements.
Dettori claimed his first win on UK soil on Lizzy Hare for Cumani in 1987 at Goodwood. By 1990 he had become the first teenager since Lester Piggott to ride 100 winners in a season.
Becoming a retained rider at Godolphin
In 1994, Dettori became a retained rider to Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin operation and won his first Classic on Balanchine in the Epsom Oaks. A debut Breeders' Cup Mile followed soon after on Barathea for Cumani.
By 1995, Dettori had picked up his first Doncaster St Leger on Classic Cliche and another Oaks on Moonshell. Dettori secured the plum ride of Derby record-breaker Lammtarra and claimed his first of a record six Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe wins in October 1995.
His international successes continued throughout the late 90s and beyond with notable wins on Singspiel in the 1996 Japan Cup for Sir Michael Stoute, Daylami in the 1999 Breeders' Cup Turf and the fantastic Dubai Millennium in the 2000 Dubai World Cup, wearing the famous blue silks of Godolphin.
The Magnificent Seven
"5/2 for Fujiyama Crest, and 5/2 me for the job centre," cried one bookmaker before Fujiyama Crest stormed home at Ascot on September 28, 1996, capping a momentous day for Dettori that is unlikely to be surpassed. Dettori had gone through the card, winning all seven races. The feat became known as the 'Magnificent Seven' and is the only time a UK-based jockey has won every race on a seven-race card.
His first winner of the day was on 2/1 shot Wall Street in the Cumberland Lodge Stakes. Then came a double for the day on Diffident at 12/1 in the Diadem Stakes.
Excitement began to bubble when Dettori guided Mark Of Esteem to win the feature Queen Elizabeth II Stakes but got to boiling point when he took the fourth race under Decorated Hero at 7/1.
"He's done it again," cried legendary commentator Peter O'Sullevan as the bookies' odds started to tumble, fearing a killing by the punters. Dettori rattled home on Fatefully (7/4) and Lochangel (5/4) to register a scarcely believable six-timer but more was to come.
By now the bookies were seriously sweating as Fujiyama Crest, a 12/1 shot in the morning but cut to 2/1, was loaded into the stalls.
"I thought Frankie would be absolutely knackered and this old b****r takes a bit of riding over two miles," Sir Michael Stoute told Ascot's official website. "As he left the paddock Frankie turned to me and said 'if this gets beaten, it's your fault not mine because I am red hot'."
It is said the bookmakers always win but not on this day as Dettori made all the running on Fujiyama Crest, beating Northern Fleet by a neck. The overall cost to the betting industry was estimated to be £40million.
Fujiyama Crest became the much-loved Dettori family pet on his retirement while his jockey had instantly become the one to whom the autograph hunters handed their pens first.
Surviving a plane crash
In June 2000, Dettori miraculously survived a plane crash when the Piper Seneca light aircraft in which he was travelling crashed on take-off and burst into flames at Newmarket. Fellow jockey Ray Cochrane managed to drag Dettori from the wreckage but sadly the pilot, Patrick Mackey, died.
"We never really spoke about it and we don't have to. It was beyond scary. It was such a bad experience and it will never leave you," Dettori told the Daily Mail in 2020.
Back to top form
The plane crash didn't stop Dettori's rise to stardom. His success on the racecourse continued with back-to-back wins in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in 2001 and 2002.
Dettori was at the height of his fame and he even launched his own range of frozen pizzas. "After the crash I thought: 'If I don't start doing these things now, I may never get the chance' so I decided to launch the food range. Now, I live every day as if it might be my last. It's been a dream of mine to launch my own range of Italian foods. I'm Italian and I love food," Dettori told horseandhound.co.uk.
In 2002 Dettori's personality and wit was put to good use as he became a team captain on BBC TV quiz show A Question Of Sport. He quit in 2003 after being stung by a question on whether he had retired from racing. By 2004 he had answered that question emphatically by claiming another Jockeys' Championship.
Winning the Epsom Derby
Despite all the big-race success, the Epsom Derby, known as the greatest flat race in the world, had eluded Dettori.
That changed in 2007 when Dettori was partnered with Authorized to take on the mile and a half Epsom test.
Coming round Tattenham Corner, Authorized sat in eighth position but there was no stopping Dettori in the green silks when he asked his horse to go, cruising to the front and winning the historic race by five lengths.
A day later, Dettori repeated the feat in the French version - the Prix Du Jockey Club - on Lawman at Chantilly in another scintillating performance.
Leaving Godolphin and his subsequent drugs ban
2012 was a difficult year for Dettori, with the jockey quitting the Goldolphin stable after 18 years after falling down the pecking order due to the arrival of Mickael Barzalona and Silvestre de Sousa.
Dettori was then banned by France Galop in December 2012 after testing positive for a substance he later admitted was cocaine. He joined the TV reality show Celebrity Big Brother during his ban, as his career hit an all-time low.
"Things were going bad, I was depressed and I guess [in] a moment of weakness I fell for it and I've only got myself to blame," Dettori told Channel 4 News in 2013.
Dettori's Gosden renaissance and Golden Horn
Despite these travails, the resilient Dettori was to battle back and rehabilitate both his career and reputation by riding winners as a freelance rider. A tie-in with smart trainer John Gosden and a wonder horse named Golden Horn saw Dettori win a second Epsom Derby, an Eclipse, a Juddmonte International, an Irish Champion Stakes and the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in the space of five months in 2015.
"I've repeated it many times, but in all my 33 years of riding it is the most emotional feeling I've ever had for a particular race, to the point where I found my body going like jelly, like someone had sapped the energy from me. It was really special," Dettori told Racing UK of his Derby win on Golden Horn.
A jockey in his 40s may expect to wind down his career with more modest animals but Dettori hadn't bargained on meeting super-mare Enable.
Dettori rode the Gosden-trained Enable in every one of her 14 races, winning a remarkable 11 times. Along the way, Dettori, in the pink and green colours of Khalid Abdullah, steered Enable to an Oaks, two King Georges, a Breeders' Cup Turf and a pair of Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe wins.
Enable was only denied a hat-trick of Arc victories in 2019 by Waldgeist and in 2020 by Sottsass at Longchamp. Dettori admitted he cried when he heard the horse had been retired.
"She is the horse that I've loved the most in all my career," he told bloodhorse.com. "She really touched my heart and I'm pleased that she bows out of the sport in one piece. It's very easy to say but she has got by far the best CV of any great horse that I've ridden. Her longevity and the performances over the last four years have been incredible."
Enable has retired as a record-breaker yet the charismatic but tough Dettori has plans to race on into his 50s. He remains racing's rock star.
Frankie Dettori's personal life
Frankie Dettori has a wife called Catherine and five children, Leo, Ella, Mia, Tallula and Rocco. He lives in the village of Stetchworth, near Newmarket, the centre of flat racing in England.
His son Rocco is a talented jockey and Dettori hopes to race against his offspring, just as Frankie did against his own father.
Dettori is a big Arsenal fan and his favourite player is Ian Wright.
"He may not have been as good a striker as Thierry Henry, but I loved his attitude and the way he was so passionate about the club, yet didn't give a f**k about anything or anyone else," Dettori told The Times about his hero . "I could really relate to him."
In 2006, Dettori's house was burgled and his MBE medal for services to horse racing stolen.
Dettori's prize earnings for connections of his rides was estimated at £147.4million at the end of 2018.
Frankie Dettori News
- Sep 11, 2022
- Aug 20, 2022