Lanfranco ‘Frankie’ Dettori earned a reputation as the punters’ friend when, way back in 1996, he went through the card at the Festival of British Racing at Ascot and cost the bookmaking industry, as a whole, in excess of £40 million. The popular Italian jockey hasn’t achieved anything of quite the same magnitude since but, at Royal Ascot in 2019, had the bookmakers running for cover once again.
Having ridden a double on the Wednesday, Dettori proceeded to ride the first four winners on the Thursday and only narrowly missed out on a five-timer when Turgenev – backed from an early price of 12/1 to 7/2 favourite – was worn down and headed in the final fifty yards of the Britannia Stakes. However, in a move that Ben Keith, owner of Star Sports, later described as ‘utterly pathetic’, Bet365 and Sky Bet subsequently ‘knocked back’ multiple bets on horses ridden by Dettori on the final two days of the Royal Meeting.
Bet365 refused some four-fold and all five-fold accumulators on both Friday and Saturday, while Sky Bet refused any multiple bet that included Dettori’s three longest-priced mounts on Saturday. Matt Bisogno, outgoing chair of the Horseracing Bettors Forum, speculated that bookmakers were treating multiple bets on Dettori as a ‘related contigency’, but Keith was much stronger in his condemnation of the action, suggesting that ‘Joe Coral, William Hill and Cyril Stein must have been turning in their graves when the story came out.’ In any event, Dettori spared the blushes of Bet365 and Sky Bet, by riding just a single winner, Advertise, on Friday and Saturday.