Frankie Dettori’s Magnificent Seven
It almost made you sorry for the bookmakers, several of whom were ruined or nearly so by the freakish run of seven wins in seven races by Frankie Dettori (and let’s not forget the horses) at Ascot on September 26 1996.
Like the rather less well-favoured Lester Piggott before him Dettori, then 25, had become the housewife’s favourite, the one female punters putting on the very occasional bet plumped for, in his case because he has a nice smile and is always bubbling. One such was Mary Bolton, whose husband was attending the meeting while she shopped in London. The Somerset couple scooped £500,000 from the £5 accumulator she placed on the jockey coming home first in all seven events at the meeting her hubby was off to. Darren Yates from Morecambe had been backing Dettori for some time, and nearly stopped at his wife’s insistence: but he had one last go, and his winnings that day allowed them to buy a new house.
In sporting terms what Dettori achieved was beat the odds and then some: let’s run through the runners (we know the rider): first up was Wall Street at 2-1; next came a bit of a long-shot, Diffident at 12-1; Mark of Esteem romped home at 100-30; then came Decorated Hero at 7-1, and by this time the bookies are sweating blood; the well-named Fatefully was the fifth winner for the little Italian at 7-4; Lochangel makes it six at 5-4; and the racing world holds its collective breath for the seventh and final race: Fujiyama Crest was not expected to be in the frame for the race, let alone win it, but rather than something realistic like 12-1 or even 10-1 because of what was happening the horse was offered at a measly 2-1, or a slightly more sporting 9-4 by some. It should have had no chance, but Dettori was on fire, in the zone, giving 110 per cent and a dozen other sporting clichés. He successfully brought the horse home – literally in the end, buying the gelding as a family pet once its career was over; and he took the finishing post home too as a rather large souvenir of the day that will surely keep him in the record books forever.
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