“Frankie – do you remember me?” sang Sister Sledge from one of the old-school tunes. It will certainly be the case that it is Frankie we will remember as the Italian legend that is Frankie Dettori hangs up his riding boots at the end of this season with next week’s Royal Ascot 2023 meeting his final go at a meeting he’s excelled at over the years.
Developing the Dettori Dynasty
Lanfronco Dettori was born in 1970 in Milan. The son of top Italian jockey Gianfranco Dettori left school at the age of 13 and the following year made his way over to the UK where he joined crack Newmarket handler Luca Cumani. It wasn’t long until he became an established stable jockey and started his illustrious riding career which has brought him three flat championships, more than 500 Group races worldwide, and a staggering 23 UK classics.
And who can ever forget the magnificent seven that Saturday afternoon at Ascot in September 1996 when Frankie won all seven races sending punters and bookmakers into a frenzy for differing reasons.
Rollercoaster of Emotions
There have been a few lows as well as highs for the ardent Arsenal supporter with the issue of his well-chronicled drug problem which he held his hands up to in 2013 having to miss six months racing due to his suspension.
Then, of course, there was his light aircraft crash at Newmarket in 2000 which took the life of the pilot as he was pulled clear of the wreckage by his colleague and good friend Ray Cochrane.
More Than the Magnificent Seven
He most certainly has had the most amazing career. My personal favourite memories being his wins on Stradivarius, with his red stockinged legs a great sight on the John Gosden stayer who Dettori won 15 times on including three Ascot Gold Cup victories.
Dettori may well be best remembered for that Magnificent Seven feat in 1996 but he has racked up 77 Royal Ascot winners dating back to his first win in 1990 with the Italian picking up 7 leading jockey awards (he’s only left the meeting winless on six occasions). The place won’t seem the same next year when we have no Frankie, who is such a big pull on and off the track for such a prestigious event.
He’ll be riding plenty for the John & Thady Gosden stable next week with many other trainers no doubt looking to give Frankie the leg up at his final Royal Ascot including American trainer Wesley Ward for who Dettori has won four times in the past at the Royal meeting (twice in the Queen Mary, Diamond Jubilee and Commonwealth Cup). We will cover all his races next week in our horse racing tips section.
One of the Great Characters of Racing
There are very few jockeys riding at present who have as much charisma (as well as talent obviously) as Dettori with his personality shining through in every interview and he’s one of a small band of sportsmen who people know just by their forename.
The Italian will leave a big hole in the sport so let’s enjoy him next week and wouldn’t it be great if he could take a race or two on his Royal Ascot swan song with the likes of Inspiral, Chaldean and Free Wind amongst his best chances of going out with a winner or two and his trademark flying dismount to be witnessed at the Royal meeting for the last time.
He’s going out at the top and yes, Frankie, we will remember you.
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