Happy Birthday to Frankie Dettori, the world’s most famous jockey, who celebrated his 50th birthday on 15th December 2020!
The three-time Champion jockey remains at the peak of his powers having provided excitement to the racetrack over five decades. He was recently named Longines World’s Best Jockey for the third consecutive year, showing that he is still a master of his craft.
Dettori has been horseracing’s most famous personality for more than 30 years. A dazzling talent, he burst onto the British racing scene in 1985 as a 15-year-old, going on to be crowned Champion Jockey three times. He has won almost every major prize in the global horse racing calendar including each of the five British Classics multiple times. In 2016 he reached 3,000 winners aboard Predilection at Newmarket’s July racecourse and has since gone on to win a further 259* British races, putting him firmly in the top five of the allcomers list of British-based Flat jockeys.
Frankie Dettori Biography
One of the greatest and most charismatic jockeys of all-time, Lanfranco ‘Frankie’ Dettori was born in Milan on 15th December 1970.
He was destined to follow in the footsteps of his father, Gianfranco, who was a 13-time Champion Jockey in his native Italy. When Dettori was 13, he left school and became an apprentice jockey and a year later moved to Great Britain to continue his apprenticeship with Italian trainer Luca Cumani. Indeed, it was for Cumani that Dettori notched up his first winner in Great Britain, guiding Lizzy Hare to success at Goodwood on 9th June 1987.
In 1990, Dettori became the first teenager since the great Lester Piggott to ride more than 100 winners in a season, which included two big-race wins on Markofdistinction in the Queen Anne Stakes and the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, both at Ascot. It was at the same track which, on 28th September 1996, Dettori would win each of the seven races on one of the year’s most competitive racedays, despite claiming earlier that morning: “I could have an each-way chance in the first, and I may win the third.” With punters queuing up to back his rides throughout the day, the victories reportedly caused losses of £30m across the bookmaking industry and Dettori has remained their nemesis ever since. This feat is now known around the world as The Magnificent Seven. That day was still not enough to help Dettori retain his Champion Jockey crown which he had won the previous two years, although he did win his third, and currently his last title, in 2004.
Despite all this success, it took Dettori until 2007 – and 15 attempts – to win his first ever Epsom Derby, steering Authorized to glory. It would be another eight years before he won the most famous race again on Golden Horn, for trainer John Gosden, in 2015. During his career he has won races in 24 different countries across the world, including far-flung places such as Turkey, Sweden, Slovakia and Trinidad and Tobago.
There are rarely any cheers on a racecourse louder than when Dettori crosses the line in front and there is no doubt that he remains one of the greatest jockeys the sport has ever seen.
- British Career wins: 3,259
- First winner: Rif, Turin, 16th November 1986
- First British win: Lizzy Hare, Goodwood, 9th June 1987
- First Group 1 winner: Markofdistinction, Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, Ascot, 1990
- Champion Apprentice title: 1989
- Champion Jockey titles: 1994, 1995, 2004
- 200+ wins in a season: 1994 (233), 1995 (217)
- British Group winners: 414
- British Prize Money: £87,347,798
British Group Wins:
British Classic wins: 17
- 3x 2000 Guineas – Mark of Esteem (1996), Island Sands (1999), Galileo Gold (2016)
- 3x 1000 Guineas – Cape Verdi (1998), Kazzia (2002), Blue Bunting (2011)
- 4x Oaks – Balanchine (1994), Moonshell (1995), Kazzia (2002), Enable (2017)
- 2x Derby – Authorized (2007), Golden Horn (2015)
- 5x St Leger – Classic Cliché (1995), Shantou (1996), Scorpion (2005), Sixties Icon (2006), Conduit (2008)
Milestone wins (Great Britain):
- 1000th winner: Band On The Run, 9th September 1995, Doncaster
- 2000th winner: Nightfall, 24th July 2004, Ascot
- 3000th winner: Predilection, 12th August 2016, Newmarket
On 28th September 1996, Frankie Dettori rode all seven winners on a single raceday at Ascot Racecourse. What made this even more impressive was that it was on one of the most competitive racedays on the calendar and included the prestigious Queen Elizabeth II Stakes. Most jockeys would have been thankful for one winner on such a day.
When you bear in mind that Leicester City’s Premier League triumph was priced as being a 5,000/1 shot by the bookmakers, Dettori’s achievement trumps that five times over. The cumulative odds of these wins were 25,051-1 and earned one lucky punter an incredible £500,000 when he completed his ‘Magnificent Seven’.
This was a landmark day for British horse racing, and made a hero of Dettori, while stripping stunned bookmakers of an estimated £30m. He was already a well-known jockey, but this day catapulted him to the status of a household name.
1. Wall Street – Odds: 2/1
On the day that he single-handedly cost the betting industry millions, it seems fitting that Dettori’s first winner was called Wall Street. He guided the three-year-old colt home over the mile-and-a-half course to claim his first victory of the afternoon in the Cumberland Lodge Stakes.
At 2/1 odds, this was not the most surprising of Dettori’s winners of the day, but it set him up for a day of success.
2. Diffident – 12/1
Diffident had had a series of disappointing results, and it was thought that Dettori had little chance of victory on the 12/1 shot. However, the Diadem Stakes was run fairly slowly, and this went in Diffident’s favour to result in winner number two of the day.
3. Mark of Esteem – 100/30
At the time, this was one of the highest quality races run in Britain for decades and Dettori did not disappoint on the big stage. As the race was drawing to a close, Dettori moved his mount out from the crowd and with clear space in front of him, he set off for home and eked out every last bit of class to claim his third win in the race.
4. Decorated Hero – 7/1
Another aptly named charge carried Dettori to his fourth win in the Tote Festival Handicap – at a relatively modest 7/1.
In a race which had 25 other horses to compete against and which saw Dettori and his mount carry more weight than any other horse, it seemed as if the run of wins was to come to an end.
Despite this, his luck continued, and he managed to pull off a three-and-a-half length victory.
5. Fatefully – 7/4
The final in a triumvirate of aptly-named horses for this day, Dettori’s win on board Fatefully led to fellow jockey – and close friend – Ray Cochrane joking “is anybody else going to get a chance today?” as he was pipped in the final strides.
Fatefully might have won at a short price, but this was now all down to the bookmakers running scared of Dettori and offering odds much shorter than those available first thing that morning.
6. Lochangel – 5/4
Triumph on Lochangel in the Blue Seal Stakes continued an astonishing afternoon for Dettori as he returned to the winners’ enclosure for the sixth time.
This was the horse’s maiden two-year-old victory, and she subsequently went on to win the Nunthorpe Stakes at the age of four.
7. Fujiyama Crest – 2/1
“9/4 Fujiyama Crest and 9/4 me for the job centre!” was the cry from bookmaker Gary Wiltshire ahead of the race. With bets all across the country rolling on to Dettori’s final ride, the bookies were living in fear.
Whether it was Darren Yates, who won £550,000, or the unnamed cleaner who continued to put 50p on Dettori in each race (she eventually won £19), the whole country was willing Dettori home.
The BBC interrupted its traditional Grandstand coverage to broadcast the live action from Ascot, where Fujiyama Crest started the race as the 2/1 favourite for the Gordon Carter Handicap, having been 12/1 that morning.
Article by Great British Racing.
Karen can usually be found glued to her computer or at the stables. Having edited several national magazines she co-founded Eclipse Magazine in 2008 after realising that many of her friends were nervous about going racing due to lack of information – what to wear, how to bet etc.
She absolutely loves her job (how many people can say that?!) and is truly grateful to all supporters of and contributors to Eclipse Magazine.
If you are reading this she would like to say THANK YOU! (And please spread the word about Eclipse…!!)