Cumani discusses departing Dettori’s unique success at Newbury and elsewhere
Luca Cumani, the first trainer to work with soon-to-be retired superstar Frankie Dettori in England, has suggested a unique will to win is behind the legendary jockey’s enormous success at Newbury and all over the racing world.
Dettori, who won aboard Arrest on his final outing at Newbury in August, is set to retire at the end of the year, likely after November’s Breeders’ Cup in California.
Since arriving to work under Cumani as a precocious 14-year-old who didn’t speak a word of English, Dettori has become one of Flat racing’s most successful and high-profile riders, winning 287 Group 1 races and being crowned Champion Jockey three times.
Dettori’s first domestic win came in the summer of 1987, two years after he first arrived in England, when he triumphed aboard the Cumani-trained Lizzy Hare at Goodwood.
The colourful Italian was crowned champion apprentice jockey in 1989 and, in 1990, became the first teenager since the legendary Lester Piggott to win more than 100 races in a year, finishing on 149.
Dettori, who went on to became one of racing’s most decorated, beloved and at times divisive characters, winning Newbury’s showpiece Lockinge Stakes five times, has been on something of a farewell tour since announcing his decision to retire.
And Cumani, who trained seven Classic winners before retiring in 2019, feels the 52-year-old Milanese’s instinctive connection with the horses he rode helped him enjoy so much success throughout his career.
Speaking to OLBG, he said: “He developed the ability quickly. Whereas it takes a normal 15-year-old two or three years to get to that stage, it took Frankie just one.
"His ability to make his will to win run down the reins to a horse’s brain was quite something. One thing you knew with Frankie, if a furlong out it was head-to-head then he would win that race as he could extract the horse to win as much as he wanted.
"Horses are amazing creatures, they have this sixth sense which you can see if they get nervous when someone nervous approaches them, or the opposite if the person is relaxed. They have a way of communicating with humans and with Frankie, he was able to transmit that will to win. The horse can feel the urge of wanting to beat the other horse."
While Cumani accepts it will likely be impossible to replace the hole Dettori’s unique character will leave in the racing world, he remains confident that someone will come along to fill the void.
"We have been very lucky, who knows where we would be in racing if it hadn’t had him,” he told OLBG.
“He has been a boost to racing, an ambassador to racing, he has attracted people to racing because he is riding on that day. He has been the best thing that has ever happened to racing.
"Who will take over from him? Somebody will. I don’t think it will be somebody like Frankie because it is very difficult for two people to be exactly the same, but there will be somebody to fill the gap."