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Saturday, 30 December, 2000, 00:00 GMT
Frankie Dettori - Britain's favourite jockey
Frankie Dettori
Dettori in celebratory mood
Frankie Dettori, who has been awarded an honourary MBE in the New Year's Honours list, is one of the world's favourite jockeys.

But the award comes at the end of a traumatic year for the diminutive Italian, a British resident for over 15 years.

In June the light aircraft he was travelling in with fellow jockey Ray Cochrane crashed on take-off from Newmarket, killing pilot Patrick Mackey.

Dettori's life was saved by Cochrane, who dragged him from the burning wreckage.

Dettori was left with a broken ankle and facial injuries, and although he was back in the saddle within nine weeks, his attitude had changed.

Frankie Dettori
Dettori after yet another win

He professed himself unconcerned about becoming champion jockey again, uninterested in making the sacrifices to his home life that requires.

Always the entertainer, he appeared on Parkinson in September and - only half-joking - raised the possibility of hosting his own chat show.

After announcing that a film was to be made of his life, Dettori spoke at the Oxford Union in October.

It was all a far cry from his humble beginnings in Italy.

His Sardinian father Gianfrance separated from his mother, a circus artist, while Frankie - christened Lanfranco - was still a child.

Coming to ride at Luca Cumani's stable aged just 15, he rode his first British winner on Lizzy Hare at Goodwood in June 1987 aged 16.

He became champion apprentice in 1989, succeeded Ray Cochrane as Cumani's stable jockey and registered his first Group 1 success, on Markofdistinction, in 1990.

Dettori
Frankie and his trademark dismount
Dettori wintered in the US and learnt a huge amount from watching Chris McCarron and Steve Cauthen in action.

He then headed for Hong Kong in 1993 - and trouble, when he was arrested and cautioned for possession of cocaine.

But a season that started rockily ended with 149 winners, a partnership with Lochsong, reconciliation with Cumani and a contract to ride for Sheikh Mohammed.

That led almost immediately to Dettori's first Classic success.

With it came the first viewing of what would become a trademark - the leaping dismount from the saddle.

Supremely well-balanced, neat and stylish and deceptively strong, Dettori's greatest moment came in September 1996.

On that famous autumn day at Ascot, Dettori won all seven races on the card.

It was an unprecedented feat, and one which would propel him to celebrity status outside the narrow confines of the racing world.

His worst day came in the 1998 Breeders' Cup Classic on board Silver Charm, when he rode an absolute stinker to lose the race.

Redemption eventually came with victory on Daylami in the corresponding race in 1999.

That and 100 other wins kept him in place as the punters' favourite.

One-year old son Leo and wife Catherine are now higher priorities than winning races.

The next chapter of Dettori's eventful life is about to begin on the best of footings with this latest accolade.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Frankie Dettori
"I'm just overwhelmed"
New Year Honours

Sporting knights

Olympic honours

Football honoured

'Services to sport'

Around the UK
See also:

17 Dec 00 | Other Sports
26 Nov 00 | Other Sports
09 Nov 00 | Other Sports
Links to more New Year Honours stories are at the foot of the page.


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