Sports

Frankie Dettori opens up on drugs shame, bulimia, horror plane crash… and wife’s emotional plea that saved his career

FRANKIE DETTORI breaks down in tears as he recalls the desperate plea from his distraught wife that helped save his career. The superstar Italian jockey had hit rock bottom. Spiralling into depression and suffering from anxiety, heart palpitations, weight problems and eating disorder bulimia. Then, hit with a six-month ban for taking cocaine, his glorious time […] ...

FRANKIE DETTORI breaks down in tears as he recalls the desperate plea from his distraught wife that helped save his career.

The superstar Italian jockey had hit rock bottom.

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Frankie Dettori has recalled the six simple words from wife Catherine that helped save his career[/caption]

PA:Press Association

Dettori has emotionally opened up about his tragic plane crash at Newmarket in 2000[/caption]

PA

For Frankie Dettori, life hasn’t always been plain sailing and celebration[/caption]

Dettori reveals all about his troubles in a sensational new documentary

Spiralling into depression and suffering from anxiety, heart palpitations, weight problems and eating disorder bulimia.

Then, hit with a six-month ban for taking cocaine, his glorious time in the saddle looked over.

But these six words from his missus Catherine — ‘Show me how good you are!’ — were the rocket-up-the-backside appeal that inspired her husband’s incredible comeback.

Dettori‘s dream partnership with trainer John Gosden has since harvested two Arc victories and a King George hat-trick on wonder mare Enable.

There were also three Ascot Gold Cups on super stallion Stradivarius, a Derby triumph aboard Golden Horn, plus world champion jockey titles and a glut of Group 1 winners.

And in a dramatic new documentary, which premieres in cinemas on Monday, an emotional Dettori bares his soul on:

– His stormy relationship with his father Gianfranco and how they refused to speak to each other for THREE YEARS.

 - How fellow jockey Ray Cochrane saved his life in the tragic Newmarket plane crash that killed the pilot.

 - His reconciliation with older sister Alessandra during Covid lockdown.

 - The ‘w*****’ dressing room tribute from his fellow jockeys after his record-breaking magnificent seven clean sweep at Royal Ascot.

 - His children bearing the brunt of their dad’s cocaine shame.

 - And the racing pigeon that had him in a flap after ‘s****ing everywhere’ inside the family’s luxurious Georgian mansion.

But it was remembering Catherine’s six powerful words that brought Dettori to tears.

He’d lost his status as No 1 jockey at Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum’s mighty Godolphin stables following the arrival of French whizkid Mickael Barzalona in 2011.

And a year later he was hit with a six-month worldwide ban after failing a drugs test while riding in France.

Choking back tears on his Godolphin fallout, Dettori recalled: “I was riding some of the horses, not all of them. It was an insult to me, I didn’t deserve it.

“I didn’t want to sit there and get kicked in the b***s every day. I thought, ‘No’.”

Mrs Dettori added: “We saw the darkness. Anxiety, depression and his weight was really bad. He would eat too much, then make himself sick. It was bulimia, a really frightening time.”

And Dettori, 50, confesses his struggles with bulimia meant he was making himself sick “two to three times a day”.

He said: “It was self-harming. I went through it badly. You feel ashamed, scared, you have heart palpitations, anxiety.

“My job was going t**s up, I was angry and frustrated, I fell into the trap of depression and took some cocaine.”

That cocaine shame cost him his job, while his kids were “slated at school”.

But when his suspension ended on May 19, 2013, things got worse.

Trainers snubbed him and people he thought were friends dropped him ‘like a hot potato’.

He managed to find some rides but went 51 races without a win and even loyal manager Peter Burrell admitted that the rider was becoming “irrelevant to the sport”.

DARK DAYS

Catherine described it as his lowest point and Dettori admitted: “They were dark days.

“I was 44 and thinking, ‘Maybe I have to prepare myself for retirement and start another life’. It didn’t look like there was a way out.

“Catherine was concerned for me and the family and she burst into tears. She started shouting, ‘All your life you’ve been telling me you’re good. Now that we need you, show me how good you are!’”

Trembling with emotion and choking back tears, Dettori added: “Strong words. ‘Show me how good you are!’.

“To hear that from your wife, that really hurt me. I thought, ‘Right, I’ll show you’.”

Dettori was down but Gosden offered him a job and a route back to the glory days after his top jockey William Buick left to join Godolphin.

The first horse Gosden put him on was Golden Horn and they romped to a 2015 Derby triumph, starting a period that saw the dream Gosden-Dettori link “winning everything” as the Italian took his career winners past the 3,000 mark.

Dettori broke down again and, wiping tears from his eyes, insisted: “It was the most emotional race I’ve won in my life. Because of the ups and downs and those powerful words, ‘Show me how good you are!’.

“There was my, ‘There you go, we done it’. I’m crying now but it was a moment of happiness, a full circle.”

Dettori almost died in the tragic plane crash on June 1, 2000.

The accident killed pilot Patrick Mackey but, miraculously, Dettori plus fellow jockey and former agent Cochrane escaped from the fireball wreckage of the rented Piper Seneca plane.

‘FRANKIE WAS COVERED IN BLOOD’

Cochrane has seldom spoken about the crash but revealed: “We set off down the airfield, the wind caught it and it bounced.

“The propeller caught the ground and away it went again. I looked at Frankie and yanked up the seatbelt.

“There was smoke coming out of the engine. We were heading for Devil’s Dyke and the wing tip caught it and flipped over and I thought, ‘This is going to hurt’.

“I woke up after 30 seconds or so and kicked the luggage door open.

“Frankie was covered in blood, couldn’t see, was screaming his leg was broken and couldn’t walk.

“I put him up on the ground and was climbing back in for Patrick (who had collapsed at the controls) but the engine was on fire and the wind was making it a flame-thrower coming at you.

“Absolutely no chance of getting in.” It was Cochrane’s THIRD plane crash. And the emotional Irishman added: “You feel guilty.

“You are stood eight feet from someone and there’s nothing you can do about it.

“But we were very lucky. If I had been knocked out for two minutes, neither of us would have been here.”

PA:Press Association

Frankie Dettori was in a plane that crash over 20 years ago that killed the pilot and broke his leg[/caption]

Frankie Dettori opens up about his plane crash, bulimia, drugs shame and more in his new documentary

Dettori, fighting back more tears, said: “I thought, ‘I’m dead’. We’d just had our first son Leo and I was thinking, ‘No! Why take me now?’.

“I could see the two engines on fire, Patrick with his head on the dashboard but I couldn’t focus.

“Ray kicks me up the backside and drags me out.

“He was going mad, beating the ground, kicking, screaming — he felt helpless he couldn’t save the pilot.

“Then, boom! The whole plane exploded.

“To see somebody die in front of your eyes… it’s hard. I shouldn’t be here. I have to thank Ray. When somebody saves your life you have to be grateful.

“My dad came to see me in hospital. We had not talked to each other for years — about pushing me too hard, about fighting with my sister. But all that c*** went out of the window.

“I nearly died and we thought, ‘Why are we arguing?’

“We made up — but it took that to make up. How crazy is that? I can’t live all my life arguing with him.

“He’s nearly 80, I know he’s playing games with me but I’ve nearly finished my career.

“I’ve won everything so what does he want? He still rings me up and says, ‘You should have done this or that’. But dads are dads.”

*Dettori is in selected cinemas and on Blu-ray, DVD & Download-to-Own from Monday.

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