‘When you win the Epsom Derby you can have it’

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Frankie Dettori has certainly had an incredible life, not just in his job as a jockey that he continues to do at the age of 51 and still gets huge wins across the globe.

Where do you start with Dettori’s life? From surviving a plane crash to the 50 year old Piaget watch timepiece, his pursuit of the Epsom Derby.

Dettori in the Stradivarius colours laughing with the Queen at Royal Ascot in 2019

Dettori in the Stradivarius colours laughing with the Queen at Royal Ascot in 2019

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Dettori has enjoyed so many winners as a jockey, not just any races either, Group 1s at Ascot, Epsom, Saudi Arabia, Dubai and the United States.

He’s also ridden in the Queen’s colours and has a very interesting relationship with her, seen often joking and talking with her at various racecourses.

Dettori in the Queen’s silks at Royal Ascot in 2021

Dettori in the Queen’s silks at Royal Ascot in 2021

Dettori’s eagerness for the Derby isn’t just in his competitive nature.

It can also be traced to his watch and the plane crash that prompted a huge regret of not winning the Epsom showpiece.

He explained the story of the Piaget timepiece to At The Races: “My dad used to open the safe and get this famous watch out.

“He would dangle it in front of my face and say, ‘see, son, one day if you win the Epsom Derby you can have it’.

“This bloody watch kept playing on my mind. Believe it or not I’ve had it nearly 15 years and I still haven’t worn it.

Dettori kissing the watch gifted to him by his father

Dettori kissing the watch gifted to him by his father

‘I should have been dead’

22 years ago, Dettori and friend Ray Cochrane headed off in a light aircraft to Goodwood flying from Newmarket.

But straight after take-off, the plane ran into problems and eventually descended, crashing into the ground.

Patrick Mackey, the pilot, tragically lost his life as a result.

Dettori was extraordinarily pulled out of the wreckage by Cochrane to safety.

Somehow, the jockey escaped the ordeal with just a fractured ankle and broken thumb.

“I should have been dead. I remember everything but I try not to,” Dettori told Reuters.

“When the plane was crashing, I had already accepted that I was going to die. I wasn’t screaming. I didn’t fear death. I was just disappointed, thinking ‘I’m 29 and it’s all finished. Not now. I’m not ready. I haven’t won The Derby.”

That and the watch clearly spurred him on.

In 2007, Dettori finally got his watch and wish, thanks to the horse Authorized.

Dettori on Authorized winning the Dante Stakes in 2007 before winning the Derby

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Dettori on Authorized winning the Dante Stakes in 2007 before winning the Derby

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It’s not all been fancy watches and lucrative prize-winning rides for the Queen at Royal Ascot.

In 1993, Arsenal played Sheffield Wednesday in the League Cup final at Wembley Stadium.

He reportedly headed there from Newmarket – the day after riding a winner for the Queen – en route he took drugs he got off a man in a service station.

Arsenal eventually went on to win 3-1, but the partying didn’t stop there.

Instead, Dettori and friends went into London to celebrate near Oxford Street where he took cocaine outside a club in an alley.

Dettori told The Sun: “I thought it was a good idea to take it in an alleyway outside the club.

“I must have been caught on camera, because before I knew it, a police car came, they searched me and arrested me.”

But Dettori has brushed himself off since then and continues to make strides in racing, winning everything from the Royal Ascot Gold Cup to Dubai World Cup.



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