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“When you win the Epsom Derby you can have it”


Frankie Dettori has certainly had an incredible life, not just in his job as a jockey which he continues to do at the age of 51 and is still taking huge wins around the world.

Where to begin the life of Dettori? From surviving a plane crash to 50-year-old Piaget’s watch, his pursuit of the Epsom Derby.

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

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

He also wears the Queen’s colors and has a very interesting relationship with her, often joking and talking with her at various racetracks.

“When you win the Epsom Derby you can have it”

Queen’s silk dettori at Royal Ascot in 2021

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

It can also be attributed to his watch and the plane crash which caused huge regret at not winning the showpiece at Epsom.

He explained the history of the Piaget watch to At The Races: “My father used to open the safe and pull out this famous watch.

“He was dangling it in front of my face and saying, ‘Look, son, one day if you win the Epsom Derby you can have it’.

“That bloody watch kept playing in my mind. Believe it or not, I’ve had it for almost 15 years and still haven’t worn it.

“When you win the Epsom Derby you can have it”

Dettori kissing the watch given to him by his father

Twenty-two years ago, Dettori and his friend Ray Cochrane left on a small plane for Goodwood from Newmarket.

But just after takeoff, the plane ran into trouble and eventually descended, crashing to the ground.

Patrick Mackey, the pilot, tragically lost his life.

Dettori was extraordinarily pulled from the wreckage by Cochrane to safety.

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

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

“When the plane crashed, I had already accepted that I was going to die. I wasn’t screaming. I wasn’t afraid of death. I was just disappointed, thinking ‘I’m 29 and It’s all over. Not now. I’m not ready. I didn’t win the Derby.

That and the watch clearly spurred him on.

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

“When you win the Epsom Derby you can have it”

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

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It wasn’t all fancy watches and money-making rides for the Queen at Royal Ascot.

In 1993, Arsenal faced Sheffield Wednesday in the League Cup Final at Wembley Stadium.

He is said to have headed there from Newmarket – the day after he drove a Victor for the Queen – en route he picked up drugs which he downed from a man at a petrol station.

Arsenal eventually won 3-1, but the party didn’t stop there.

Instead, Dettori and his friends went to 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 him from an alley outside the club.

“I had to have my picture taken because before I knew it a police car came, they searched me and arrested me.”

But Dettori has shrugged off his own since then and continues to progress in the race, winning everything from the Royal Ascot Gold Cup to the Dubai World Cup.



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