The charismatic jockey Frankie Dettori, “the rock star of racing” has been a much-loved household name for three decades, one of those personalities you think you know pretty well. But Dettori, a beautifully crafted new Frankie Dettori film charting his remarkable life story – which received its world premier in London on 15 November – provides some real eye-opening segments and previously untold footage as it lays bare his rise from teenage apprentice to the world’s greatest jockey.
Of course, there are wonderful celebrations of an exceptional career in the saddle, which has been peppered by his notorious flying dismounts. His Magnificent Seven at Ascot in 1996, his love affair with supermare Enable and his long-awaited Derby triumph with Authorized are engagingly catalogued and from the frenetic opening scenes in Paris, this is a fast-paced journey into the inner-sanctum of the racing world.
But it is the through-the-keyhole insight into his home life, the demons behind his happy exterior and the often torturous relationship with his authoritarian father, the celebrated Italian jockey Gianfranco Dettori, that proved most poignant. The bar that Gianfranco set for his son has proved unattainably high, but Dettori insists he’s grateful to him for shaping his career, as illustrated by their intriguing daily post-race phone exchanges.
The tears that accompany the harrowing retelling of the plane crash that nearly killed him and fellow jockey Ray Cochrane in 2000 come as a surprise but it is the rollercoaster of emotions that Frankie serves up in this film which underline just how much he is prepared to expose to his audience.
The sub-title of the film is “Show me how good you are” and this flyaway exchange of words from his wife Catherine proves to be the catalyst for lifting him out of one of his darkest spirals in his life and into what has arguably been one of his greatest eras on the track. It’s both stirring and uplifting.
This is obviously a film for racing fans to savour, but the content of director Anthony Wonke’s documentary proves an enthralling insight into the mind of a top sportsman, who has endured titanic struggles and triumphant comebacks as he continuously pushes himself to new heights of success.
Like Frankie Dettori himself, this big screen film is wonderful entertainment.
Find out what the team at H&H thought of Frankie Dettori’s second autobiography, Leap of Faith
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