Legends Of Horse Racing: Frankie Dettori

By  //  July 5, 2022

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Horse racing has seen many legends in the saddle over the years. Of course, the horses are the heroes of the racetrack, but we cannot forget about the jockeys. Without the jockey, races would be haphazard and the horses would not keep going. 

It’s a team effort between horse and jockey to win a race, and one of the best jockeys we ever saw was Frankie Dettori. 

People have always been betting on horse racing, Julius Cesar himself would place a bet or two. However, people now bet more. We keep an eye on the races, we know who is good, which horses are winners, we track the trends. 

And, when we see someone like Dettori on the back of a horse, we know what’s up and where to stick our money. 

So, who is Dettori, and what is it about him that makes him such a legend?

Where He Began

Detorri was born in Milan in 1970, and he started out in a way we knew he would be following in the footsteps of his father, who was a well known Italian jockey. 

Frankie had his first experience with horses when he was 12, as his dad bought him a pony. He rode the horse regularly, and it started to become a big part of his life. He left school to become a stable boy and a jockey’s apprentice. 

By the time he was 14 he traveled to the UK where he trained to be an apprentice to the trainer Luca Cumani in 1985. Not long after this, he became a stable jockey.

Racing In The UK

By 1990, he became the first ever teen since Piggott to have ridden 100 winners in a single season. He rode his first ever winner at 16 years of age, when he was in Italy and his winning horse in the UK was in 87, only a year later.

Winners kept on coming, even those in the highest level 1 races. Then, he won every race at Ascot on September 28th 1996. 

This feat was one that included winning the Queen Elizabeth 11 Stakes. The number of awards was 25,051 to 1! A single punter won an immense £500,000 on that day! 

Dettori first rode Wall Street on that fateful day, rather ironic. He also rode Diffident, Mark of Esteem, Decorated Hero, and Fatefully. 

His following race was more simple than his previous, he ran with Lochangel with stakes at 5 to 4, and he won just as the books anticipated. The bookies then interrupted and decimated the odds for his final horse – Fujiyama Crest. 

He started the race at 2 to 1, but started the day off as 12 to 1. No one believed this horse would be the first across the line, especially since he would be carrying a weight of 10 stone. However, this colt gave it his all and sealed Detttori his home in the record books. 

Winners did not stop coming to Dettori, he just seemed to attract them all the way into the new millennia. 

A Scrape With Death

The winners probably would have continued to have come past the Millennium as well. However, in 2000, Dettori had a scrape with death with another jockey when the Piper Seneca plane they were in crashed as it tried to take off. 

The pilot lost his life but Dettori and his fellow jockey were okay. Dettori has an ankle injury  and his fellow jockey got a Queen’s Commendation for his Bravery two years later for having saved Dettori’s life. 

Dettori had been the primary jockey for the Godolphin organization, and they had often worked together to win many races but in 2012, this agreement was not renewed. It’s believed that Dettori’s lifestyle outside of the races may have been an issue.

Back To Basics

Dettori had been a TV personality on a British TV show known as ‘A Question Of Sport’ from 2002, however, he left realizing his racing attitude was not what it should be, and he needed to return to the basics. 

He started to ride in small meets. He believed his chance at the Champion’s jockey title was forfeit since he could not fly again. But, he did in 2004. 

Upheaval In The 2010s

Not long after Godolphin and Dettori went their separate ways in 2012, Dettori faced a failed drugs test in France, and he ended up suspended for half a year after being found guilty of using a substance which was prohibited, or at least, it was believed to be a class A drug. 

He had been in some practices which were bad for business up until now. He had used many drugs up until their bans, including laxatives and pee pills. 

He served his suspension and came back to race 278 winners in the five seasons of the GB flat from ‘13 to ‘17. Having ridden Enable, Cracksman, and more. He rode over 3,000 winners in the UK, which is over 750 more on average than the next active jockey. 

His successes with many horses makes him a true legend, in spite of a few tainted incidents, here and there.