Inside Frankie Dettori’s “frightening” bulimia, depression and cocaine battles

The career of legendary jockey Frankie Dettori epitomises the ups and downs that not only sportspeople, but everybody faces in their life.

Dettori burst onto the scene as a dominant race-winning teenager in the 90s, miraculously survived a terrible plane crash in 2000, then recovered to become the No1 rider at the Godolphin stables.

But it was at that point in the early 2010s which came the darkest period of his life where he battled bulimia, depression and cocaine use.

Losing his position of power at the stables was the catalyst to a steep decline.

His wife, Catherine, recalls: “We saw the darkness. Anxiety, depression and his weight was really bad. He would eat too much, then make himself sick. It was bulimia, a really frightening time.”

Dettori was forcing himself to throw up two to three times a day, which led him to the drugs.

“It was self-harming. I went through it badly. You feel ashamed, scared, you have heart palpitations, anxiety," the 50-year-old said in his upcoming documentary (via The Sun).

“My job was going t**s up, I was angry and frustrated, I fell into the trap of depression and took some cocaine.”

That drug use was soon picked up by a test in France and resulted in a six-month worldwide ban from the sport.

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His return from the ban brought no end to his struggles as he was shown the cold shoulder by most people in horse racing.

Even his manager said he was "irrelevant to the sport", which was as low as it got for the Dettori family.

Dettori added: “They were dark days. I was 44 and thinking, ‘Maybe I have to prepare myself for retirement and start another life’. It didn’t look like there was a way out.

“Catherine was concerned for me and the family and she burst into tears. She started shouting, ‘All your life you’ve been telling me you’re good. Now that we need you, show me how good you are!’”

And those scolding words from his wife kicked started a path to redemption.

Trainer John Gosden took a chance on him and Dettori grabbed the opportunity with all his might.

The 2015 Derby win on Golden Horn was the origin point of their supremely successful partnership which has birthed countless successes since.

Two Arc de Triomphe and three King George victories on Enable, plus three Ascot Gold Cups on Stradivarius prove that no matter how bad a position you can be in, there's always a light at the end of the tunnel – or track.

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