Frankie Dettori celebrates 20 years since magnificent seven wins

September 22, 2016

Frankie Dettori has been recalling the upcoming 20th anniversary of one of the greatest feats in racing history, when he rode seven horses in a day - and won every time.

The Italian sent the stock market into a slight tremor on 28th September 1996, as shares in bookmaking companies took a hit, thanks to his once-in-a-lifetime achievement at Ascot's Festival of British Racing.

Reflecting on the incredible feat, Dettori told BBC Radio 5 Live: "For sporting achievement, it's my greatest thing that I've ever done, and in horse racing. It would be very hard to match something like that.

"And, second, there's a fairytale scenario where bookmakers lost £40 million, and wherever I went, in every part of the country, I had so many people coming up to me who'd won so much money on that day, and it changed people's lives."

Indeed, the odds against Dettori winning all seven races were 236,000-1, 47.2 times as unlikely as Leicester City's Premier League triumph this year. Yet seven times in a row he was able to perform his trademark star jump from the horse.

He explained that the only horse he had been sure would win was his first ride of the day, Wall Street, which was competing in a small field.

However, he overcame tougher opponent in bigger fields as the day progressed, with his sixth win, Lochangel, giving him a win over rival Pat Eddery and equalling the British record of six wins in a day, which had been achieved by just three men - and on minor race days, rather than one of the major festival days of the season. Indeed, Eddery, one of the legends of the sport, followed Dettori over the line in second place four times that day.

Dettori was sure his final horse, Fujiyama Crest, would not win the final race, the Gordon Carter Handicap, as he was carrying top weight and in poor form, but win it did. The crowds cheered wildly while the bookmakers started to wonder if they had chosen the wrong careers.

Fans booking corporate hospitality during the flat season at Ascot will be hoping to see more of Dettori and the sport's other superstars, although it is, of course, extremely unlikely they will see anything quite like the unprecedented feats of one man on seven horses two decades ago.

Indeed, last month he reached the landmark of 3,000 winners, reaching the magic number with two winners in an evening meeting at Newmarket, his local course. As he crossed the line on Predilection, he was cheered by a crowd of over 20,000. He is just the sixth jockey to reach this mark in flat racing, alongside Sir Gordon Richards, Doug Smith, Lester Piggott, Pat Eddery and Willie Carson.

The name of the horse was appropriate, for the winner of over 3,000 races, the Epsom Derby and Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe and a magnificent seven one day at Ascot two decades ago has shown as much as any jockey just how exciting a day at the races can be.

By Keith Prowse

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