Is Frankie Dettori the best European jockey ever – even surpassing the legendary Lester Piggott – in racing’s Sport of Kings?
Italian maestro Lanfranco “Frankie” Dettori, MBE, wowed the 2019 Royal Ascot meeting, underlined by riding the first four winners on Thursday’s June 20 card, including the £500,000 (USD $636,970) Gold Cup, on board Stradivarius, who made it back to back Gold Cup wins in the UK’s most prestigious flat race.
“What a horse Stradivarius is – a horse for the big occasion – people love him,” said Dettori, after completing back to back Gold Cup successes.
Stradivarius, trained by John Gosden was heavily backed to win the £283,550 (USD $361,225) first prize.
“It’s great for everyone connected with the horse – every time he runs he delivers. He doesn’t know how to lose. A fantastic horse,” said Dettori.
Dettori had the bookies running scared on Ladies Day, after winning on A’Ali, Sangarius, Star Catcher, and Stradivarius.“Frankie Dettori rode a beautiful race,” said trainer Gosden, whose star stayer won the 2018 Yorkshire Cup, the Gold Cup, the Goodwood Cup and the Lonsdale Cup – to bag a £1m bonus, through the inaugural Weatherbys Hamilton Stayers’ Million.
Going into the 5th and final Day of Royal Ascot 2019 on Saturday, Dettori leads the race to the Champion Jockey’s crown having ridden 7 winner through the 1st four days, 2nd is Ryan Moore who has 5 wins, followed by Daniel Tudehope 1 further back on 4.
So is Dettori the top European Flat jockey ever?
Dettori, 48, UK’s champion jockey three times, has ridden a total of 712 Group race winners of which 207 have come at the pinnacle Group 1 grade, this includes one of the greatest feats ever, by any jockey, anywhere in the world – riding all seven winners on a memorable British Champions Day at Ascot in 1996.
In 2012 Dettori split from riding with Godolphin racing, after being found guilty of reportedly taking cocaine, of which he was suspended from riding for six months.
Pocket-rocket Dettori, 5′ 4″, and his wife Catherine, live in Stetchworth, Newmarket, with their five children.
Legend Lester Piggott, 83, rode 4,493 career winners, including nine Derby victories, his first being in 1954 on Never Say Die, aged 18.
Born on November 5, 1935, Piggott certainly lit up the racing world, notching up the British Flat racing champion jockey crown on 11 occasions.
Piggott, who retired in 1985 and became a trainer, was jailed for six months and stripped of his OBE, for tax fraud.
Piggott, who rode his first winner at the age of 12, made a dramatic comeback to the saddle in 1990, prior to officially retiring in 1995.
Piggott was in attendance with Her Majesty The Queen at Epsom Downs earlier this month, where a statue of him was unveiled, in recognition of his services to racing which included a record 9 Derby wins at the famous Epsom track.
Trainer Mark Johnston believes Dettori is, at very least, on par with Piggott, who has long been regarded as one of the greatest Flat racing jockeys of all time.
“On the big day, Frankie Dettori is special. No disrespect to Lester Piggott – a superhero – but to not call Frankie on the same terms would not be fair on him. He has been the most fantastic jockey for British racing,” said Johnston.