FRANKIE DETTORI has opened up on the moment that has haunted him for more than 20 years – saying it forced him to tears in the arms of wife Catherine.
Dettori, 52, is embarking on his final farewell season as a jockey.
Dettori’s infamous ride on Swain in the 1998 Breeders’ Cup Classic is one that still haunts him
Dettori said he needed the help of wife Catherine after the soul-crushing defeat in one of the world’s biggest races
He has been racing in Santa Anita in California, before taking in money-spinning trips to the Middle East.
All the British Classics will be part of his plan for the summer months before one final outing at the Breeders’ Cup in November.
It has already been an emotional few weeks for the world’s most famous jockey.
And in a revealing interview with Past The Wire, the usually bulletproof Italian opened up on one occasion that is still painful nearly 25 years on.
Dettori visibly winced recalling his ride on Swain in the 1998 Breeders’ Cup Classic.
One report claimed Dettori ‘completely lost his self-control’ down the straight at Churchill Downs.
Swain hung badly across the track, finishing third, a length behind winner Awesome Again.
Dettori originally blamed the floodlights for forcing the horse to veer wildly, then claimed he went wide to avoid a tussle with runner-up Silver Charm.
He admits now he messed up – and has revealed the emotional toll it took on him.
Dettori said: “The occasion got to me and I wasn’t cool enough to handle the occasion.
“I was 28, 29, I was doing well but it was a big learning curve.
“I remember flying back to New York and I was crying that day with my wife.
“It left a sour taste in my mouth, but you learn from it.
“Nobody has a perfect career. You have got to accept your mistakes.
“I made a mistake and I learned from it – you have got to stay cool under pressure.”
Dettori will be hoping that advice serves him well when he attempts to land the biggest payday of his career in Saudi Arabia next month.
He will get the ride on Country Grammer in the $20million Saudi Cup – the world’s richest race.
The winner will pocket £8.7million, with the jockey likely to get a ten per cent cut of around £870,000.
After that Dettori will look to ride an emotional winner on Lanfranco, a Frankel colt he has named after himself.
The hope is that Lanfranco, who is out of Coronet, a horse Dettori rode to five of her six career wins, will prove a phenomenon on the track when hopefully making his debut around September time.