Reaching milestones has been a common theme throughout the distinguished career of Frankie Dettori, and the world’s most famous jockey on Tuesday celebrated another by turning 50, reports Sporting Life’s Graham Clark.
Since arriving in Newmarket in 1985 as a 14-year-old unable to speak English, the popular Italian has carved out a career few in the sport can come close to matching – and even he could not have imagined.
But though Dettori can now look back fondly on many magical moments, had it not been for his first employer, and fellow countryman, Luca Cumani, the career he has gone on to enjoy may never have come to fruition.
He said: “To be honest the first three months in Newmarket I hated it. The weather was rubbish and the food was disgusting.
“My father persuaded me to stay and Luca saw something in me and the rest is history really. It was all worthwhile in the end. It’s unreal what I’ve achieved since.”
“Luca was one of my first teachers. He was very thorough and he taught me a lot. He was very strict, but in a good way.
“He was a big influence, he moulded me well from the beginning. Eight of my tender years, which are probably the most important part of your career, were spent with him and they were great times.”
Momentous success has followed all around the world – but for all that Dettori has achieved, he acknowledges his exploits over the past four years aboard the John Gosden-trained 11-time Group One winner Enable will take some beating.
Dettori has again proved this year that while now among the elder statesman of the weighing room he can still mix it with the best, as his enduring relationship with Gosden continues unabated.
He said: “I’ve ridden plenty of Group One winners this year and ended up being leading rider at Royal Ascot again and that was a great time.
The subject of retirement is one that Dettori has played down in recent years – and judging by his current levels of enthusiasm for the sport it would appear the sight of him performing his trademark flying dismount is unlikely to stop any time soon.”
He said: “Look, I’d love to win a Melbourne Cup and being a Newmarket boy the only Group One in England I’ve not won is the July Cup, so I would love to tick that off the list before I retire.