Frankie Dettori quite simply has been the biggest attraction in racing for three decades and he continues to be box office news during what is becoming a stunning final year in the saddle.
Dettori has already won the 2000 Guineas at Newmarket and The Oaks at Epsom as part of his farewell tour and it seems extremely likely he'll make his mark on his final Royal Ascot – a meeting at which he's enjoyed 76 winners in his career so far.
Watch every race across the five days at Royal Ascot from Tuesday 20th June – Saturday 24th June via the bet365 service.
|What||Royal Ascot 2023|
|Where||Royal Ascot, Ascot Racecourse|
|When||Tuesday 20th June – Saturday 24th June|
|How to watch||bet365 Sports Live Streaming, ITV, Sky Sports Racing|
Lanfranco 'Frankie' Dettori was born in Milan, the son of jockey Gianfranco Dettori, himself twice a winner of the 2000 Guineas. His father was a notoriously tough taskmaster and, by 14, Frankie was sent to England to work for trainer and fellow Milanese Luca Cumani in Newmarket.
He learned his trade and claimed his first win on UK soil on Lizzy Hare for Cumani in 1987 at Goodwood. Within three years, he'd become the first teenager since Lester Piggott to ride 100 winners in a season.
Dettori had the X-factor from the beginning and in 1994 he became a retained rider to Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin operation and won his first Classic on Balanchine in the Epsom Oaks.
A year later, Dettori had picked up his first St Leger at Doncaster on Classic Cliche and another Oaks on Moonshell at Epsom.
He was well on his way to becoming a record-shattering rider, travelling the world and winning the biggest races on offer in his own inimitable style. He did it all with pizazz, never one to shirk the limelight or a photo opportunity.
He claimed the first of a record six Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe wins in October 1995 on Lammtarra. He is a record-breaker and trendsetter in every sense of the word and it's unlikely that his like will be seen again when he hangs up his boots at the end of 2023.
Dettori's career will be recalled for so many things – his litany of top level success, celebrity lifestyle & some high profile falling outs with trainers as well as miraculously surviving a plane crash at Newmarket in June 2000 – but perhaps no day more so than at Ascot on 28th September, 1996.
That was the afternoon when Dettori went 'through the card' at the Berkshire venue, winning all seven races in a feat unmatched before or since.
His first winner of the day was on 2/1 shot Wall Street in the Cumberland Lodge Stakes and they kept on rolling, sparking excitement amongst punters and racegoers and fear in the bookmaking fraternity as the liabilities piled up.
The bookies were seriously sweating as Fujiyama Crest, a 12/1 shot in the morning but cut to 2/1, was loaded into the stalls and Dettori kept it simple, making all and beating Northern Fleet by a neck with the overall cost to the betting industry estimated at £40m.
Fujiyama Crest became the much-loved Dettori family pet and the jockey became the punters pal from that day onwards, a position he holds to this very day in his final year.
Despite the horrors of that plane crash, success on the racecourse continued with back-to-back wins in the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe in 2001 and 2002.
By the mid-2000s however one race was eluding Dettori and it was the one that mattered most – the Epsom Derby.
He'd tried and failed 14 times when he threw a leg up on Authorized for Peter Chapple-Hyam in 2007, the favourite.
2007, the favourite. As they rounded Tattenham Corner into the home straight, Dettori loomed on the outside of the field and his partner pulled clear to give him the race he wanted the most.
Another Derby followed in 2015 when he brought home Golden Horn for John Gosden – the trainer with whom he has formed an incredible alliance in the final chapters of his career.
Arc glory followed at Longchamp and together, Gosden and Dettori have been farming the big prizes in recent times.
The star turn was Enable, a Juddmonte-owned filly that captured the public affection with an English/Irish Oaks double in 2017 to go with wins in the Cheshire and Yorkshire versions.
She'd win the King George VI & Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot three times in high summer, the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe twice and also won a Breeders' Cup Turf in 2018 and the Eclipse at Sandown in 2019 before missing out on an historic third Arc win in 2020.
For Dettori, the filly was another 'horse of a lifetime' in a career seemingly littered with superstar equine partners to match his own status, including of course star stayer Stradivarius, with whom he won three Ascot Gold Cups, four Goodwood Cups and many other major prizes.
Dettori announced in December 2022 that he would retire at the end of 2023 and so began a year-long goodbye.
Everywhere he ventures now, it's a last attempt at some great race or another. Any notion it would be a sign that he's slowing down has been torched with his wins in the 2000 Guineas on Chaldean for Andrew Balding and The Oaks on Soul Sister for Gosden and his son, Thady.
Dettori will surely add to his Royal Ascot haul, with Chaldean 6/4 to win the St James's Palace Stakes on 20th June and Inspiral an hope for the curtain-raising Queen Anne earlier the same afternoon.
They are just two of what is sure to be bumper book of rides across the five days for a rider still right at the top of his game despite closing in on his 53rd birthday.