Published On: Sat, May 2nd, 2020

Frankie Dettori latest: What it meant to win World’s Best Jockey | Racing | Sport

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Frankie Dettori on Stradivarius after winning

Frankie Dettori’s favourite photo (Image: Frankie Dettori)

THIS is a photo taken on Ladies’ Day at last year’s Royal Ascot. It was day three of the iconic five-day racing festival. I had just won the Gold Cup on Stradivarius, as well as winning four races in a row. I won six races that week and with that the title of Royal Ascot’s Leading Rider – a prize I hadn’t claimed since 2014. For us, Royal Ascot is the Olympics, and last year was a big year. My wife is sick of racing now so she hardly comes. 

The last time she came to Royal Ascot was 2016 when I was riding Treve, who finished third.

So this year when she said she wanted to come, I thought, ‘Oh no, she’s going to bring me bad luck.’

She came on the first day and it didn’t work out for me, so obviously I was in a filthy mood. But you’ve got to move on. 

On the Wednesday it was raining so my wife didn’t come. I didn’t start out in a great mood but then I won on Crystal Ocean.

Then, on Thursday, she gets up and says, ‘I’m bored of the hotel, I want to come racing,’ and I thought, ‘That’s it, the day’s over.’

I had several decent rides that day but Stradivarius was the most important. He was defending his crown in the Gold Cup. I was nervous. 

I would never have foreseen what was going to happen that day. I won the first race with A’Ali. The horse was owned by a friend of mine, Simon Crisford. It was special to ride a winner for him.

The second was Sangarius for Prince Khalid Abdullah and I didn’t really expect him to win.

When Star Catcher won the third, I could feel that everyone in the crowd was going berserk. 

Frankie Dettori headshot

Frankie Dettori won Leading Rider for the first time in 15 years (Image: Frankie Dettori)

That excited everyone even more for Stradivarius to run. 

In the Gold Cup, everything went to plan. He is a horse that delivers very late.

When you are racing, you hear the crowd but the noise doesn’t travel that quickly and there is a delay of a few seconds. So when I hit the front, it all went quiet and then I heard this huge uproar.

That was when I just felt this great sense of euphoria and I was delighted for Bjorn Nielsen, who owns him, and John Gosden, his trainer. 

To have one or two winners at Royal Ascot is amazing. To have four consecutive on Gold Cup Day is mental.

The Queen gave me a trophy twice that day – for the Gold Cup and the QEII.

I am lucky to meet the Queen a lot because she has horses trained by John. She will come to the yard to see her horses and we will sit down and have a cup of tea and a chat. 

Stadivarius is a bit of a boy in the mornings, spending most of his time on two legs, reminding everyone he is a stallion.

At the races, he’s a lamb.

He is great to ride because he doesn’t pull. You can put him anywhere then when you ask him to go, he goes. 

The success of that day helped me win Leading Rider for the first time in 15 years. The standard is so high these days. You are only as good as the horses you ride. 

At the moment, I work for the best stable in England and we have an amazing portfolio of owners.

John Gosden is a genius. I came here in 1993 to work for him. I was a kid and he was more of a father figure then.

Now I’m 49, I can’t really call him that. We are great mates. Fifty is the magical age for a jockey.

I’ll be 50 in December so I will take one year at a time. In my job, I’m one fall away from retiring and now that I’m old, I break.

But I never get scared. If you do a race and think you might fall or break, then you shouldn’t do it. 

Winning the Longines World’s Best Jockey 2019 for the third time was a special moment.

I was the first ever winner and the only jockey to win it back to back. I am so proud but it all comes down to the horses.” 

Frankie was speaking on behalf of Longines, the proud sponsor of the World’s Best Racehorse Awards. Visit longines.com. 



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