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Frankie Dettori recalls his Ascot 'Magnificent Seven'

Frankie Dettori after winning the Derby, and riding Poet's Voice at Goodwood
Dettori is set to ride Poet's Voice in the QEII Stakes at Ascot on Saturday

Queen Elizabeth II Stakes: 1615 BST, Saturday Coverage: Racing from Ascot, BBC Two and BBC Sport website, 1350-1630 Radio: Big race commentaries on BBC 5 Live

By Frank Keogh

Landmarks litter the year 2010 for jockey Frankie Dettori.

On 1 June, it was 10 years since the plane crash which nearly claimed his life, while 15 December brings a significant birthday when the bright-eyed Italian will be a still youthful-looking 40.

This weekend provides another occasion of note - the anniversary of his record-breaking "Magnificent Seven" wins at Ascot.

The livewire rider stunned the sporting world by claiming all the winners on a competitive card at the accumulative odds of more than 25,000-1.

Bookmakers were left broke, punters saluted a saviour, and his victorious flying dismounts helped create a new celebrity.

That was back in 1996. So does the man christened Lanfranco, but known best simply as Frankie, still relive those races in his mind?

"It's my biggest feat. I won every race on the card and to do what I did will live long in the memories," Dettori tells BBC Sport as he roams a field at his home near Newmarket.

"I was the first one to ever do that 14 years ago and I'm still the first one. They even moved the news."

Frankie Dettori performs a flying dismount
Dettori performs a flying dismount at Ascot

The scheduled Saturday evening news bulletin was delayed as BBC TV cameras captured history being made and they will be back at Ascot on Saturday for a meeting where the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes - with Dettori set to ride Poet's Voice - is again the feature race.

"On the day, the only thing I was concentrating on was the QEII," recalls the three-time champion jockey.

"I thought my first ride of the day, on Wall Street, was my best chance and then I thought the big one was a match race between my mount Mark of Esteem and Bosra Sham."

All these years on, he remembers each victory like it was yesterday. He has ridden more than 2,500 winners in his career, but the names from 28 September 1996 roll off his tongue like old friends.

"In the second I was very lucky on Diffident as I got boxed in, then I won the QEII and I was just floating. I was so happy then as Decorated Hero took the fourth and and I won easily on Fatefully in the next.

"With Lochangel I realised if I win this, it would be six in a row.

"I never in a million years thought I would end up winning all seven. I beat Pat Eddery in the last - he was second to me four times that day.

"At the time I couldn't comprehend what I'd done. I didn't realise the impact it would have on me, the industry and everyone until the aftermath. It was just great."

The seventh winner, Fujiyama Crest, provides a daily reminder to Dettori of the occasion that turned him from a rising racing star to a riding phenomenon.

Now aged 18, the gelding, who held on by a neck to round off that memorable achievement, is now a Dettori family pet kept on land surrounding his home.

"It's a bit of a party trick, whenever someone comes round, to show him off," says the genial father of five.

"People give him apples or whatever and the kids love him. He's just a gentle giant."

I'm pretty fit, still confident in my ability and my goal is to win the next race.

Frankie Dettori

In the QEII Stakes on Saturday, Dettori faces a tough challenge on Poet's Voice against top milers such as last year's winner Rip Van Winkle and the 2000 Guineas victor Makfi.

"Poet's Voice is an improving three-year-old but he's probably still a bit off the top horses," concedes Dettori, who rides the bulk of his big winners for the Sheikh Mohammed-backed Godolphin team.

"I feel like we should take our chance and with some luck can get a place."

There will be more confidence behind White Moonstone, the early ante-post favourite for the 1,000 Guineas at Newmarket in 2011, who runs in the Fillies' Mile at Ascot.

"She's won three races and has been very impressive. She is very exciting and this is a big step for her," he says.

But you sense the real excitement is around Saamid, favourite for the 2,000 Guineas and a potential contender for the Epsom Derby, in which Dettori famously exorcised his hoodoo at the 15th attempt on Authorized in 2007.

"He's a horse I love," enthuses Dettori about the colt nicknamed Pegasus at trainer Saeed bin Suroor's yard.

"He's going through the ranks really well and seems to have a very good physique. He is set to run in the Dewhurst Stakes [at Newmarket on 16 October] next."

Although there are less than two months of the flat racing season to go, it builds to a fascinating climax.

"After Ascot, there is Arc weekend, then Champions Day at Newmarket, the Racing Post Trophy, Melbourne Cup and Breeders' Cup," says Dettori.

"The next six weeks is mouthwatering stuff. I'm looking forward to all of them."

Frankie Dettori after neing injured in a plane crash in 2000
Dettori was lucky to escape a plane crash alive in 2000

Dettori could be aboard last year's third Cavalryman in the Arc - the Prix de l'Arc de Triomphe - at Longchamp on 3 October.

"Nothing has been decided but I have ridden in every Arc since I was 17 and I would like to continue the trend," he says.

And after that landmark December birthday is celebrated in Milan, what then for the 40-year-old jockey?

Dettori once questioned whether he would ride into his 40s, but now plans to carry on for a few years more despite business interests which include a restaurant partnership with chef Marco Pierre White.

"I still love what I do, it's become a way of life for me now. I'd feel naked without it," he says.

"I'm pretty fit, still confident in my ability and my goal is to win the next race.

"I've been lucky enough to achieve all my goals, maybe I will try to achieve some for a second time."

Quite frankly, for Frankie it is all a bonus after so nearly losing his life 10 years ago in the plane crash which killed pilot Patrick Mackey.

On the 10th anniversary earlier this year Dettori rang his friend Ray Cochrane, the fellow jockey and passenger who pulled him from the burning wreckage.

"We were in different locations but we both happened to be having a glass of champagne at the same time. We could have been dead and raised a glass to life," reflects Dettori.

"We lost my pilot. It was a terrible ordeal, a horrible thing. It was a dark day in my life and we are lucky to be here."



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FROM OTHER SPORT SITES
Irish Independent Dettori geared for Poet push - 8 hrs ago
ESPN.co.uk Frankie Dettori's Magnificent Seven - 9 hrs ago
Daily Star Holberg holds on to set up Melbourne Cup bid - 15 hrs ago
Daily Express Noseda's day to forget - 17 hrs ago


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