Great things come from Italy – pizza, pasta and bucket loads of sunshine but possibly their greatest export has been the jockey Frankie Dettori MBE. We find out what makes the illustrious Frankie the world’s most famous jockey
Arriving in England aged 14 to ride for Luca Cumani, the legendary Frankie has never looked back. An avid Anglophile, he has been Champion Jockey three times, won over 500 of the top Group races and is famous for winning all seven races in a single day at Ascot 1996. Off the race track he has been involved with BBC’s Question of Sport, Celebrity Big Brother and his own Italian restaurant chain Frankie’s Italian Bar and Grill. A born survivor (escaping a light aircraft crash) and natural enthusiast (think of his flying dismounts), Frankie brings an Italian passion and notable raw talent to the world of sport.
Who was your inspiration whilst growing up?
Lester Piggott and Steve Cauthen.
Was it a hard decision to give up school to become an apprentice jockey?
No not at all as school and I were not really ideal together!
Did your family play any role in your choice of career?
Yes absolutely. My father, Gianfranco was champion jockey in Italy for many years and rode classic winners here.
How much is talent and how much is hard work?
I work much harder than people think to stay fit and arrive at the track ready to roll. I am lucky that I can control my weight and my nerve is intact.
Does having an on-going relationship with a horse make them run better for you?
In the case of Enable yes it does, but generally I can get to know a horse on the way to the start.
How do you prepare mentally before a race?
I am very relaxed but if it is a big race I go through every scenario during the previous 24 hours.
Do you have any superstitions or rituals before a race?
You would go crazy if you did!
When and what do you eat before a race to keep your energy levels up?
Sometimes I can’t eat anything at all. A jockey’s diet would terrify even Weight Watchers!
What continues to drive you and have you always had a competitive spirit?
As long as I can avoid injury I will always ride competitively. This year was my best with nineteen Group One winners
How do you combine being a dad with travelling the world?
My wife Catherine does the heavy lifting but we are all very close.
What has been your worst injury to date?
My plane crash in 2000 but I have broken almost every bone in my body riding.
What advice would you give to aspiring jockeys?
Work hard and pay attention to the trainers that you work for.
And what can you teach them about dealing with defeat – and with victory?
Every jockey has to deal with defeat as 90% of the time that is the case.
What career would you have liked if not a jockey?
Probably something in finance in the City of London but I never had the chance to think of anything else!
Which up-and-coming jockey do you have your eye on?
What are your hobbies outside of racing?
Golf, wine and football.
As an Italian, share with us your favourite pasta dish?
I love linguine and I adore Taglioline Verde Gratinati but it is a once a year treat!
Any more plans for TV?
Working for ITV for sure.
What mountains are left to conquer?
The Melbourne Cup.
Motto for life?
Really to live every day having nearly died a few times.
The Derby and anything with Enable, so probably The King George last year at Ascot.
Enable, Golden Horn and Dubai Millenium.
Ascot of course!
Horse you would most liked to have ridden?