There have been many moments of magic to have lit up the Frankie Dettori final season highlights reel, from Chaldean in the 2,000 Guineas and Courage Mon Ami in the Ascot Gold Cup to his expertly judged rides aboard Soul Sister in the Oaks and Mostahdaf in the Juddmonte International, and plenty more in between. The evergreen Italian is certainly doing his bit to finish with a flourish, and with Champions Day and the Breeders’ Cup Meeting still to come, he likely isn’t done quite yet.
The latest installment in this spectacular lap of honour came at Newmarket on Saturday 7th October 2023, as Frankie partnered Inspiral to a scintillating success in the Sun Chariot Stakes. Yet another Group 1 to add to Frankie’s overflowing CV, this success also signalled the moment that Dettori reached an incredible landmark. Having called Newmarket home for the past 38 years, Frankie revels in success at his local track and has more reason than most to celebrate over the years: 500 reasons to be precise, with the victory of Inspiral representing the jockey’s 500th success across the Rowley Mile and July Course tracks. These are remarkable numbers from a remarkable man, and here we look back at his most memorable moments at one of the UK’s most iconic racing venues.
Group 1 Glory: Almost a Full Set
There are nine Group 1 events held at the Suffolk venue, and Frankie has won them all. All, that is, apart from the elusive July Cup. The top-class sprint contest will likely be one of the only races which haunt Dettori once he heads into retirement, as not only is it the only Newmarket Group 1 missing from his CV, it is the only British Group 1 he has failed to win. Each and every one of Britain’s other 35 top-level events has fallen under Dettori’s spell at one point or another, but he never could quite get home in front in this – coming closest when second aboard Iffraaj (2006), Advertise (2019), and Sceptical (2020). Set to have a final crack at the prize in 2023, he ultimately missed the race due to suspension. Sometimes, even for Frankie, it just isn’t meant to be.
Elsewhere, Frankie has enjoyed a more fruitful time of things, with his 27 Group 1 triumphs including eight victories in the Newmarket Classics and a record-setting seven in the Fillies’ Mile – previously held at Ascot, but switched to Newmarket in 2011. The major Newmarket handicaps of the Cambridgeshire (three wins) and Cesarewitch (one win) have also made their way into the Dettori trophy cabinet.
Five of the Best
Frankie will likely remember every one of those Group 1 Triumphs when he settles down in his slippers and ranking them all is no easy task. Nevertheless, for us, the following five just stand above the rest.
Mark of Esteem: 1996 2,000 Guineas
Frankie already had two Oaks and a St Leger under his belt by the time the 2,000 Guineas rolled around in 1996, but this success represented his first Classic victory at his local track. Reason enough to live long in the memory, and all the more so as it produced one of the most thrilling finishes in the history of the one-mile event. Try as they might, neither Bijou D’Inde nor a charging Even Top could quite reel in Dettori, who had kicked first up the rail and clung on by a short head. In addition to this success, Mark Of Esteem will forever be remembered as the third leg of Dettori’s Magnificent Seven at Ascot later that season.
Cape Verdi: 1998 1,000 Guineas
Successful four times in the opening fillies’ Classic of the season, the names of Kazzia (2002), Blue Bunting (2011), and Mother Earth (2021) all have a special place on the Dettori role of honour, but the most impressive winner of them all came in Frankie’s debut success in the race, as the Saeed bin Suroor-trained Cape Verdi stamped her class all over the field. This daughter of Caerleon never won again, but on that May afternoon in 1998, she was simply sensational
Too Darn Hot: 2018 Dewhurst Stakes
Always popular with punters, the sight of Frankie Dettori steering a hot favourite to victory in a major event is invariably met with considerable celebration in the stands. Such was the case in 2018 in one of the top late-season contests for the juveniles. A perfect three from three headed into the race, the appropriately named Too Darn Hot had burnt off all of his rivals to date but now faced his biggest test. In a field containing a future Commonwealth Cup and Derby winner, it’s fair to say the John Gosden-trained son of Dubawi passed his test with flying colours.
St Mark’s Basilica: 2020 Dewhurst Stakes
Headed into the 2020 edition of the Dewhurst Stakes, St Mark’s Basilica had come up short in his two previous starts in Group 1 company and arrived at Newmarket with only a lowly maiden success to his name. Not the greatest surprise then that Ryan Moore took the mount aboard stablemate Wembley, who had finished ahead of St Mark’s Basilica in the National Stakes. However, with Dettori in the saddle for the first time, the son of Siyouni forged clear of the pack to hold off Wembley by half a length. St Mark’s Basilica never looked back, winning all four subsequent starts, all at Group 1 level.
Inspiral: 2023 Sun Chariot Stakes
Last but not least, the filly who brought up the magic 500. Never forgiven by some punters for being turned over at odds of 1/7 in the 2022 edition of the Falmouth Stakes on the July Course, that was but one of the very few blips on her impressive CV. Ahead of the 2023 edition of this event, Inspiral had already won four times at the top level, with Dettori in the saddle every time. Some suspected that the French Group 1 winner Mqse De Sevigne may deny Dettori, but in the end, his willing and talented mount took him to his landmark success in fitting style.