With Frankie Dettori already off the mark on the first day of this year’s Royal Ascot (16 June), we take a look at the reasons why the Italian jockey is such a favourite with the public — and it’s not just for his flying dismounts…
1. He’s a mischievous Milanese
Lanfranco Dettori, the son of Italian champion jockey Gianfranco Dettori and a circus performer mother, was born in 1970 and moved to Great Britain at the age of 14 to work for Newmarket trainer Luca Cumani. The British racing industry has enjoyed “The Frankie Factor” ever since.
2. He’s been winning races for over 30 years
Frankie, who measures in at 5ft 4in, became the first teenager since Lester Piggott to record 100 victories. He has since been champion jockey three times and won the Derby twice.
3. He’s a national celebrity
He took part in the 2013 series of Celebrity Big Brother during a six-month spell on the sidelines after he was found guilty of taking a prohibited substance. He trailed in seventh. He was also team captain on A Question Of Sport for two years.
4. If at first you don’t succeed…
He finally won the Derby on his 15th attempt. In 2007 he rode the Peter Chapple-Hyam trained Authorized to victory at Epsom.
5. He’s bounced back from adversity
In 2000, he and Ray Cochrane, who later became his agent, were involved in a plane crash at Newmarket when he was on his way to Goodwood. The pilot was killed but Frankie escaped with a fractured ankle.
6. His trademark flying dismounts
Frankie is well-known for performing a flamboyant flying dismount in the winner’s enclousure after his big-race victories — perhaps thanks to his acrobatic genes?
7. He’s bred a National Hunt champion
Dodging Bullets, who Frankie bred out of Nova Cygni, by his Irish 2000 Guineas winner Dubawi, won the Champion Chase at Cheltenham in 2015.
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8. His “magnificent seven” remains a phenomenal achievement
His crowning glory came on Champions Day at Ascot in 1996 when he rode all seven winners on the card at odds of 10,168-1.
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