Legendary flat racing jockey Frankie Dettori is raring to go ahead of his last appearance in the Betfred Derby at Epsom Downs.
On his final season competing in the circuit, the 53-year-old icon is looking to bow out with his third Derby winner aboard second favourite Arrest (9/2).
Speaking exclusively to Betfred TV, Dettori looked back on his marvellous career, including his highlights from this famous race.
“For a jockey, the pinnacle of your career is to win the Epsom Derby,” he said.
“It was on my 15th attempt [that I triumphed in that race] and that was the last piece of the puzzle because up to that point I’d won every classic or big race bar the Derby.
“It [the victory] was relief more than enjoyment. And then in 2015 with Golden Horn [his second Derby winner] was really enjoyable because I really got to enjoy that one.”
The Italian star is brimming with excitement to get back in the saddle for this most special race and he cannot believe that he is partnered with a horse that has a great chance of winning him his third Derby crown.
“I’ve got one more crack at it. Never in a million years did I think I’d be in the Derby with a horse that has a legitimate chance. I’m super excited and going to give it one last go.”
Dettori is unquestionably one of the greatest jockeys the world has ever seen and his successful career which has spanned across three decades proves that. But when asked what his proudest achievement was in those 30 years he only had one answer: the immortalising Magnificent Seven on Champions’ Day at Ascot 27 years ago.
“The moment I’m proudest of came in 1996 when I rode the seven winners at Ascot. I think that would be my greatest achievement. The first one (Wall Street) I thought was a certainty and he did win. The second one (Diffident) I was lucky because another stride and I’d have finished third. Mark Of Esteem was the most important one. Then Decorated Hero looking in hindsight was also a certainty because it was a Group 2 horse running in the handicap.
“The fifth, Faithfully, I don’t remember it, my mind is completely blank. I guess the emotion took over. Then I remember race six, Lochangel, because I knew that I was so close to equalling the record, then I started to get a bit emotional. And then the seventh was just incredible. Even now I don’t know how it happened or why it happened. It was one of those freak days that even I’m shocked thinking about.”
The return to Epsom Downs has stirred up some emotion in the jockey extraordinaire as it further dawns on him that his retirement is drawing closer.
“I gave myself a year to say my last goodbyes. It’s going well at the moment. I’m pretty relaxed to be honest with you.
“I’m looking forward to Epsom weekend. I’m going into it with some good rides, I just need a bit of luck now and I’m trying to enjoy it as much as I can.
“It’s gone like a flash. It feels not that long ago that I landed in England as a 14-year-old boy eager to learn. Over 30 years in the saddle, there’s been many successes, highs and lows, I enjoyed every minute of it. By talking to my family members, I decided to call it a day.
“I love the horse, I love the animal, I love the competition, the buzz, the speed, the thrill, the smell, the people screaming. The whole package is an unbelievable thing.
“I will miss it 100 percent. My heart doesn’t want to stop but I feel that this is the right time. I’m 52, I want people to remember me when I was still good and at the best of my powers in the biggest races and the best horses.”
The eyes of the world will be on the Epsom Derby at 1:30pm on Saturday in the hope of witnessing Dettori ride his third winner in the spectacle. It will give his final season a fitting victory and crown an amazing career that we are unlikely to ever see paralleled.
*18+ | BeGambleAware | Odds Subject To Change