Horse racing fans know just one name when it comes to beating the astronomical odds.
Mention The Magnificent Seven and you’re likely to get movie fans of a certain age rising to the challenge of naming the seven actors who portrayed those avenging angels in the 1960 Hollywood Western (no, not the 2016 remake, as entertaining as that was).
How many of those thespians can you remember? The usual total is four – Steve McQueen, Yul Brunner, Eli Wallach and Charles Bronson. A few movie nerds might come up with Robert Vaughan, but few will recall Horst Buchholz and Brad Dexter.
Horse racing fans will have just one name: Frankie Dettori.
The most famous jockey in the world acted out his Magnificent Seven in September 1996 when he rode all seven winners on the card at Ascot racecourse on QE II Stakes day. It was like a golfer making 18 birdies in a single round, said one writer.
The cumulative odds on this feat at the start of the day were about 230,000-1. Come the last race of the day, punters around the world were piling onto the ultimate mug bet: Frankie to win on Fujiyama Crest and complete the clean sweep. As he passed the post in jubilation, bookmakers were in anguish. Shame. The bookie industry is said to have lost £30 million, with many smaller operators bankrupted.
This Sunday, Dettori is a hot favourite to chalk up another unique Magnificent Seven – his seventh victory in the Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe at Longchamps.
If he does win, just as momentous will be the achievement of his mount Enable, who is aiming for a third win in a row in Europe’s richest race. When the super race mare won in Paris in 2018, she became the eighth horse to do the Arc double, but no horse has won it three times.
Enable, at 7-10 in the Arc betting, is owned by Khalid Abdullah, one of horse racing’s biggest patrons, and is trained by John Gosden, who – along with Dettori – is in red-hot big-race form at the moment.
She is easily best female horse currently racing in the world, having won 13 of her 14 starts, including the Epsom Oaks and the King George VI and QE II Stakes (twice).
The bookmakers are taking no chances with nemesis Frankie and have priced Enable up at 7-10.
Second favourite at 5-1 is Japan, winner of the Group 1 Grand Prix de Paris at Longchamp, trained by Aiden O’Brien and ridden by Ryan Moore. Epsom Derby 2019 winner Anthony van Dyck is 33-1.
This week’s announcement that Paddy Power Betfair and Sky Bet are to amalgamate to form the biggest bookmaking operation in the world might have cynics saying the pencil men – still smarting from that snotklap in 1996 – are ganging up to fight off the combined forces of nature that are Frankie Dettori, John Gosden and Enable.
For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.