Inside the life of Frankie Dettori, from plane crash to Celeb Big Brother and his five children including protégé Ella

THEY say life begins at 40… try telling that to Frankie Dettori.

The legendary jockey has enjoyed a new lease of life since turning 50.

Already this season Dettori, one of the few riders to become a household name, has claimed the 1000 Guineas and Chester Cup – and he could claim the £200,000 Lockinge Stakes on Saturday aboard superstar miler Palace Pier.


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After victory at Newmarket he performed his iconic flying dismount and roared: "Come on the oldies!"

But the dad-of-five looks to have a protege rising up the ranks – his own daughter, Ella, who was recently named in the Magnolia Cup line-up.

Here, we recall Dettori's incredible career – the ups and the downs – and look at what is next as he creeps towards retirement.


In 2000, Dettori and his pal Ray Cochrane hopped into a Piper Seneca light aircraft at Newmarket to fly to Goodwood.

However, the plane ran into problems at take off and came hurtling down to the ground.

The pilot Patrick Mackey tragically lost his life in the horror crash.

Frankie was pulled out of the burning wreckage by Cochrane, who suffered minor burns in the accident, and dragged through the plane's luggage compartment to safety.

Somehow, Dettori escaped with a fractured ankle and broken thumb.


"It would certainly seem to be a miracle that anyone got out of the crash alive," a police spokesman said.

Dettori, himself, has rarely talked about the ordeal. But earlier this year he opened up on the 20-year anniversary of the crash.

"It was beyond scary," he told the Daily Mail.

"It was such a bad experience and it will never leave you."


In 2012, Dettori admittedly fell into depression.

His place as the number one rider for the Sheikh Mohammed's famed Godolphin yard was under threat after younger riders Mickael Barzalona and Silvestre de Sousa joined the Dubai-based team.

He had a moment of 'weakness'.

Frankie used cocaine and subsequently failed a drug test.

He was also slapped with a six-month ban – at that point threatening to leave his career potentially in tatters.

"Things were going bad, I was depressed and I guess [in] a moment of weakness I fell for it and I've only got myself to blame," Dettori told Channel 4 News.

He added: "I'm very ashamed and embarrassed, and paid a very big price for it. I spent six months not doing the thing that I love, racing."


With all the success Frankie has enjoyed in his life, that remarkable British Champions' Day at Ascot in 1996 when he rode all seven winners being the standout, his dedication to put his body through the rigours of horse racing amazes.

Plus, with diet and exercise being key to his longevity in keeping him on the saddle, Dettori has had to make sacrifices.

Before the Jockey Club banned the use of diuretic drugs in 1998, he admitted to taking Lasix, pee pills, diuretics, and laxatives in an interview with BBC's Newsnight.

Now, he's all about clean-living – pushing his favourite pasta dishes to one side in favour of white fish, vegetables and drinking water.

Incredibly, even in his older years, Dettori – standing at 5ft 4in – has managed to keep his weight in and around the 8st 10lb mark.

Running and sweating it out in the sauna are also key components he uses to keep his weight down.


Not many jockeys have the staying power to ride past 50. But Dettori is certainly showing no signs of retiring just yet.

Famously, he was stung by a question on Question of Sport that saw him quit the BBC show in 2003 when it was suggested he had retired. That just made him refocus his efforts and train harder.

He turned 50 last December and is looking to keep going for at least another six years, like Lestor Piggott.

But Dettori could delay any retirement plans in order to race against son Rocco.

A post shared by Frankie Dettori (@frankiedettori_)

A post shared by Frankie Dettori (@frankiedettori_)

Frankie said in 2019: "I rode with my dad and it was an amazing experience and I’m very proud that I did it. If [Rocco] wants to do it it’s an amazing ambition of mine to be able to ride with him. He can tell his children that we did it."

But rapidly rising up the ranks is 18-year-old daughter Ella.

She was recently confirmed in the line-up for Glorious Goodwood's famed Magnolia Cup.

With five kids with wife Catherine, the future of racing is in good hands.


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