‘He could see the tsunami happening’ – how Dettori hit bookmakers for £40m | Horse racing news

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Phil Smith

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Crest of a wave: Frankie Dettori is overjoyed, the bookies not so much, as he looks back on Fujiyama Crest, the last of his Magnificent Seven

Phil Smith

By Nick Pulford

Recalling some of the greatest bets in racing history. This week: Frankie Dettori and the Magnificent Seven


Dettori’s Dream Day

Winning every contest at a race meeting, “going through the card” in racing parlance, is a coveted feat seldom achieved by a jockey or trainer. To do so on one of the most important race days of the year was Frankie Dettori’s dream, catapulting him into an afternoon of shining young racing star with a household name. On the other hand, it was the stuff of nightmares for bookmakers who bore the brunt of his incredible feat, which was soon immortalized as ‘Frankie’s Magnificent Seven’.

People’s favorite

Dettori went to Ascot on Saturday September 28, 1996, as the reigning champion jockey. He was there for the Festival of British Racing, a seven-race card highlighted by the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes, in which he was booked to partner 2,000 Guineas winner Mark Of Esteem. It looked like his best chance of a full seven-ride book that looked promising but barely raised the alarm bells for bookies.

Alan Crowhurst (Getty Images)

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Frankie Dettori: His brilliant riding and flamboyant personality had made him a favorite

Frankie Dettori: His brilliant riding and flamboyant personality had made him a favorite

Alan Crowhurst (Getty Images)

Still, many punters invested faith and money in Dettori, whose brilliant riding and flamboyant personality had made him the people’s favourite. That day, as Dettori rode winner after winner, the snowball effect of all those bets, many of them stuck in accumulators, quickly turned into an avalanche that the bookmakers were powerless to stop.

From snowball to avalanche

In the first race, at 2:00 a.m., Dettori went all out to win the Cumberland Lodge Stakes on Wall Street, trained by Saeed bin Suroor, the 2-1 favorite. It was a victory he expected. He wasn’t as confident on the 12-1 Diffident shot in the next, the Diadem Stakes, but scored with a short header from unlucky favorite Lucayan Prince. Then he took the QEII on Mark Of Esteem. Three out of three for Dettori and Bin Suroor; it was already a beautiful day.

Dettori switched sides in the fourth race, riding heavyweight Decorated Hero for John Gosden in the 26-rider Festival Handicap, and clinched his easiest win of the afternoon by three-and-a-half lengths on a chance. of 7-1. The bookmakers knew they were in big trouble. As Mike Dillon, longtime Ladbrokes public relations manager, said: “Frankie is Mr Racing to some people and they will support him blindly whether he’s on Pegasus or the pack horse, so it was always going to be a problem halfway through the afternoon.”

The liability continued to pile up as Dettori won the fifth on Fatefully, again for Bin Suroor, then the sixth on Lochangel trained by Ian Balding. A race to do. . .

The end game

Just over three and a half hours after the first race, it all came down to race seven, the 5.35 Gordon Carter Handicap, in which Dettori was on Fujiyama Crest. At the start of the day, it had been his least imagined run, but now, with bookmakers desperate to reduce liability on multiple bets, the Michael Stoute-trained gelding has been sent off as a 2-1 favorite.

Dillon said: “I was in regular contact with our business manager Colin Miles. He could see the tsunami happening, so we started sending money to the track, trying to shorten Frankie’s horses. The morning, Fujiyama Crest had been friendless at 12-1 and 14-1, but in the minutes leading up to the race he was backed at 2-1. It was the weirdest thing you could imagine.”

Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)

” title=”No hard feelings: Ladbrokes’ Mike Dillon warmly shakes Frankie Dettori by the throat at the 20th anniversary of the Magnificent Seven” class=”js-imageLoader” data-at-xn=”https://www. rp-assets.com/images/news/2020/07/22/80880-medium.jpeg” data-br-n=”https://www.rp-assets.com/images/news/2020/07/22 /80880-medium.jpeg” data-br-m=”https://www.rp-assets.com/images/news/2020/07/22/80880-large.jpeg” data-br-w=”https :/ /www.rp-assets.com/images/news/2020/07/22/80880-large.jpeg” data-br-xw=”https://www.rp-assets.com/images/news/ 2020/ 07/22/80880-large.jpeg” onclick=”return false;”>
No hard feelings: Ladbrokes' Mike Dillon warmly shakes Frankie Dettori by the throat on the Magnificent Seven's 20th anniversary

No hard feelings: Ladbrokes’ Mike Dillon warmly shakes Frankie Dettori by the throat on the Magnificent Seven’s 20th anniversary

Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)

This was seen as a great opportunity by some bookmakers on the course. Chief among them was Gary Wiltshire, who recalled: “I thought it was my chance to be a millionaire. The first bet I made was £40,000 at 7-2 with Coral. All the offices crashed on him but I didn’t take a pound public on that horse It was all trade money With all the bets added up I had him as a loser of £1.4m .

The hour of reckoning was not long in coming. Having set out to do everything, Dettori hung on by a neck to make history on Fujiyama Crest.

Only two jockeys – Sir Gordon Richards and Alec Russell – had crossed an entire British card unbeaten before, but they did so in encounters with just six contests. The Magnificent Seven was a historic achievement that turned Dettori into a global superstar, and his 25,095-1 seven times cost the betting industry up to £40m.

Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)

” title=”Good Publicity: Punter Darren Yates Celebrates Winning Half a Million Pounds on His Hero Frankie Dettori’s Finest Day at Ascot” class=”js-imageLoader” data-at-xn=”https ://www.rp-assets. com/images/news/2020/07/22/80878-medium.jpeg” data-br-n=”https://www.rp-assets.com/images/news/2020/07/22/80878-medium .jpeg” data-br-m=”https://www.rp-assets.com/images/news/2020/07/22/80878-large.jpeg” data-br-w=”https://www .rp-assets.com/images/news/2020/07/22/80878-large.jpeg” data-br-xw=”https://www.rp-assets.com/images/news/2020/07/ 22/80878-large.jpeg” onclick=”return false;”>
Good publicity: Punter Darren Yates celebrates half a million pound win on his hero Frankie Dettori's biggest day at Ascot

Good publicity: Punter Darren Yates celebrates half a million pound win on his hero Frankie Dettori’s biggest day at Ascot

Edward Whitaker (racingpost.com/photos)


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