Dettori's feeling of `emptiness'

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The Independent Online
Frankie Dettori yesterday admitted to a feeling of "emptiness" after achieving his ambition of riding all seven winners on the first day's card at Ascot's Festival of Racing on 28 September.

The jockey told of a magazine feature which had been compiled about him in which he was asked `what would be your ideal day?' "I said `going through the card' and it was funny because a couple of weeks later I actually went through the card," Dettori said in an interview on Radio 5 Live.

"And I had this kind of feeling of emptiness when I went home that day because, usually, when I come home from a race meeting, there are always one or two races where you think `well if I did this or that, perhaps I could have changed things a little bit'.

"But it was the only day in my career when I did everything perfect, so I felt, really, kind of empty, I didn't know what to think."

Dettori's new ambition is to win the Derby. "At the end of the day, if I don't win the Derby in my career, I'm not going to kill myself but it's the race that is missing in my record and it's probably the race I would most want to win right now."

Dettori also talked about living, as a youngster, in the shadow of his father, the Italian champion jockey Gianfranco Dettori. "I was very overshadowed by my dad's doings and it's funny, but it wasn't until I left home at 14 that my real character, my real personality came up and in a way I look back and think `if I had stayed at home, would I be in this position now?'

"And I would say no because my parents were so intimidating and so strong that I don't think I would have ever been able to come out of my shell."

When Dettori left home he came to England and under the wing of the leading Newmarket trainer and fellow Italian, Luca Cumani. The ex-champion admits that Cumani taught him a lot about racing in his eight years at the Bedford House yard. "I owe a lot to him, he took time to teach me a lot of things, discipline, riding."

But it was a relationship which was to turn sour. "... I was having some success and obviously me and him too couldn't handle the situation and the riding wasn't my No 1 priority anymore. "I was getting a little bit of money. I was getting a little bit successful and I just went off the rails."

Going off the rails led to a brush with the law for the young Dettori. "It's common knowledge that four years ago I got caught by the police and I had a small quantity of cocaine. I got cautioned by the police, not charged.

"It was the best thing that could have happened to me. It gave me a good kick up the backside ... I had to stop being a prat and grow up. It was time to mature and do what you are supposed to do which in my case was to go out there and show my natural talent and ride horses."

n Jockey Dan Fortt was taken to hospital for X-rays to his chest after a fall from his mount, High Alltitude, at Newbury yesterday.