Italian Horse Racing is, undoubtedly, famous around the world thanks to the global-image of Frankie Dettori. However, whilst Dettori and the likes of Andrea Atzeni are recognised as top-class jockeys, Italian Racing also has another side in the form of the Palio di Siena. So here are our top-5 Italian Jockeys.
Lanfranco “Frankie” Dettori
Frankie Dettori is a definitely the most iconic star of Italian Horse Racing but, despite winning over 500 group-races around the world, the 47-year-old is showing no signs of retiring just yet. His haul of English Classics includes three 1,000 Guineas, three 2,000 Guineas, two Derbys, three Oaks and five St Legers, and he’s also ridden five winners of the Ascot Gold Cup. Dettori has also ridden classic winners in Ireland, France and Italy, and has won further big races in Bahrain, Qatar, Germany, Macau, Trinidad and Tobago, Slovakia, Saudia Arabia, Abu Dhabi, Sweden, Switzerland, Canada, Australia, United Arab Emirates, Turkey, the USA, Mauritius, Japan and Singapore. However, he will probably always remain most famous for winning all 7 races at Ascot in 1996 – when reportedly taking the bookies for millions in what is called “Frankie’s Magnificent Seven”.
Gianfranco Dettori may have retired long ago, but this Sardinian born jockey was crowned the champion jockey of Italy on 13 occasions. He also plundered two consecutive English 2,000 Guineas in 1975 (Bolkonski) and 1976 (Wollow) for trainer Henry Cecil, as well as other group-1 races such as the Eclipse. However, despite all those historical wins, his main contribution to horse racing will probably be siring his son Frankie Dettori.
Another jockey born in Sardinia, and Atzeni was a star of pony-racing in his native country before heading to England at the age of 17. He started to catch the eye of prominent trainers when winning the 2009 Cesarewitch, but suddenly became a household name when winning his first classic via Kingston Hill in the 2014 St Leger. He has had a love affair with Doncaster Racecourse ever since, having also won the St Leger the following year aboard Simple Verse, and winning four consecutive group-1 Racing Post Trophies between 2013 and 2016.
Luigi “Gigi” Bruschelli
The other side of Italian Horse Racing centres around the Palio di Siena, a race held twice-a-year in which the jockeys ride bareback. Bruschelli rode 13 winners of this race between 1996 and 2012.
Nicknamed “Aceto”, Degortes is now retired, but in between 1965 and 1992 he won 14 Palio di Siena races, which is a modern-day record.