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  Saturday, 2 June, 2001, 10:42 GMT 11:42 UK
Frankie's unfinished business
Frankie Dettori and Dubai Millennium
Dubai Millennium was one of Dettori's favourite horses
By BBC Sport Online's Sophie Brown

Even if Frankie Dettori rides a donkey in the Epsom Derby, he would still probably start as one of the favourites in the betting market.

This is less to do with his undoubtedly exceptional horsemanship than the fact that he is hugely popular inside and outside the sport.

The housewives' choice, who has been the feature of several spreads in Hello, will carry the hopes - and money - of many in Epsom's big race.

And he will be desperate to win to complete his collection of Classic victories, from which only the Epsom Derby is missing.

Ups and downs

Victory at Epsom would be a high to round off a rollercoaster year for the gregarious Italian.

Frankie Dettori displays his acrobatic dismounting talents
Dettori's trademark is his acrobatic dismount

For it was last June that Dettori - along with fellow jockey Ray Cochrane - survived a plane crash in which the pilot was killed.

The light aircraft in which they were travelling crashed after take-off from Newmarket.

Dettori suffered a broken ankle and facial injuries but made a quick recovery and was back in the saddle later that summer.

2001 has also brought mixed blessings for the Godolphin jockey.

The birth of his daughter, Ella, has been a high point, as was collecting an MBE in April.

Dubai death

But the untimely death of Dubai Millennium cast a shadow over the beginning of the Flat season.

Dettori had partnered the horse to victory in the 2000 Dubai World Cup and believed he was one of the best he had ever ridden.

  Frankie factfile
December 1970: Born in Milan, Italy
November 1986: Rides first winner in Turin
June 1987: Rides first British winner at Goodwood
1990: Becomes first teenager since Lester Piggott to ride 100 winners in a season and wins first Group 1 race
1994: Wins jockeys' championship
1995: Rides 1,000th British winner
September 1996: Becomes first jockey to ride all seven winners on the card at a British meeting at odds of 25,095-1
June 2000: Small plane in which he is travelling crashes after take-off from Newmarket, killing the pilot
April 2001: Presented with MBE; Dubai Millennium dies

After Dubai Millennium's breathtaking win in last year's event, this year's Dubai World Cup was a disaster for Dettori.

He was even booed by the crowd after his mount, Best of the Bests, trailed in a disappointing eighth.

Desire unquenched

There were those who doubted whether Dettori would still have the hunger for success after last summer's plane crash.

Had he chosen to quit, racing would have been the loser for he is a superb advert for the sport with a huge profile both inside and outside of racing.

He is just as much at home in a TV studio as he is in the weighing room and is even the subject of a forthcoming movie, on which he is acting as a technical and racing consultant.

But racing is his main career and the desire to ride competitively is still there.

In particular it is fuelled by the gap in his collection of racing triumphs - the precious Epsom Derby win.

Another racing great, the late Sir Gordon Richards, rode for 33 years but had to wait 32 before finally winning the Epsom showpiece.

Dettori will be hoping his Epsom big race success will come sooner - and if it comes in this year's race, the cheer will probably be heard back in Milan.

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