It’s not often we’ll doff our caps so readily to sportspeople who’ve taken us to the cleaners but in the case of Frankie Dettori and The Magnificent Seven we can’t help but marvel at one of betting and racing’s greatest ever achievements.
Added to that, the hero of the hour wasn’t about to let the bookies get off lightly when reflecting on his unrivalled feat of 20 years ago.
Brimming with idiosyncratic charm and swagger, Frankie was on top form when offering up his recollections of that magical day in September 1996.
Speaking exclusively to Ladbrokes, our brand ambassador described his extraordinary achievements as “the most amazing thing I’ve ever done and will ever do.”
At odds of over 25,000/1 the then 25-year old Italian won every race at Ascot on 28 September, 1996, and handed bookmakers their most expensive day in history – a record which still stands today.
And Dettori believes history will never be repeated.
“There’s no chance anyone will do it again. None whatsoever” said Dettori. “Something magical was happening that day. It was out of this world. I’ve never felt it since and I don’t think anyone had ever felt it before. I was in the zone and natural instinct took over.
“Tony McCoy tried every day for decades to do what I’d done and even he never managed it.
“I cost the bookies £40m and gave punters their best ever day. I absolutely love that! It’s crazy to think how much the bookies actually lost but it still makes me smile.
“Even now I get stopped by guys in the street who tell me they won a few quid that day. Not a week goes by without somebody telling me where they were on the day they cleaned out the bookies.
“My life changed forever that day. I was just an enthusiastic jockey when I woke on the 28th of September but the following day I had 30 TV trucks parked up outside my house. Suddenly I was a household name. It was crazy.”
Ladbrokes alone lost £10m on the costliest day in their 130-year history as the Dettori bandwagon rolled on, captured by the BBC cameras.
“Our Head Office was in meltdown” admits Mike Dillon of Ladbrokes, who was at Ascot on the day. “We had no idea what the true liabilities were but as we arrived at the seventh and final race we knew we’d be be facing historic losses if Fujiyama Crest would win.
“It would be many millions but we didn’t know how many. All across the land we had shop managers phoning Head Office to warn us that they had a small-staking punters who was on the brink of collecting thousands. All the phone lines were jammed and every alarm bell was ringing.”
Fujiyama Crest won the finale, sealing Frankie’s date with destiny, and the bookies were on their knees.
“Amidst the deafening noise of celebration at Ascot I remember thinking we’d have to make the most of it” continues Dillon. “Thankfully we had the most media-friendly jockey in the world in the saddle and we could put the millions of pounds against the marketing budget rather than the trading line.
“Some of my colleagues couldn’t see past the crippling losses and they were wailing. The blood of bookmakers was all over Ascot.
“I preferred to get on the front foot and celebrate it as the best – not the worst – day for our industry. I knew Frankie’s achievement would bring many more people to racing and betting. He’s been doing precisely that for the past 20 years. He’s the nation’s favourite and we should be grateful he did what he did when he did it.”
Frankie believes the bookies have finally forgiven him.
“It might have taken the bookies 20 years but they’re over it now, I reckon. I’d love to do it again but it just won’t happen. What happened that day can never happen again. No question.”
Frankie Dettori was speaking as part of the bookies’ 20th anniversary celebrations of Frankie’s Magnificent Seven.
Keep checking back to www.ladbrokes.com/Frankie for more exclusive content and opinion from Ladbrokes and brand ambassador Frankie Dettori.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing