On Saturday, September 28, 1996, reigning champion jockey Lanfranco ‘Frankie’ Dettori arrived at Ascot Racecourse for the Festival of British Racing – a forerunner of what is now British Champions’ Day – with a full book of seven rides. Two, three or possibly four of them held realistic chances of winning but, at the start of the day, no-one – or, at least, hardly anyone – could have predicted that Dettori would achieve the nigh on impossible feat of partnering all seven winners on the card.
Dettori opened his account on Wall Street, trained by Saeed Bin Suroor, on behalf of Goldolphin, his principal employer, in the Cumberland Lodge Stakes. Further success in the royal-blue silks of Godolphin followed on Diffident, who scraped home by a short head, in the Diamed Stakes, Mark Of Esteem in the Queen Elizabeth II Stakes and, later in the afternoon, Fatefully in the Roseberry Rated Stakes.
In between times, Dettori partnered Decorated Hero, trained by John Gosden, to an easy victory in the Tote Festival Handicap, causing BBC television to extend its coverage until just a time that Dettori was beaten. BBC producers were not to be disappointed because Dettori extended his winning sequence to six when making all the running to win the Blue Seal Stakes on Lochangel, trained by Andrew Balding. By that stage, the popular Italian jockey had already equalled the record held by Sir Gordon Richards and Alec Russell by winning six consecutive races on the same card but, with one race left, still had the chance to complete an unprecedented seven-timer.
Coincidentally, his remaining mount, Fujiyama Crest, had won the closing Gordon Carter Handicap on the same card the previous year but, having failed to add to his winning tally – including when finishing tailed off in the Northumberland Plate on his previous outing – was available at 12/1 on the morning of the race. Nevertheless, in the face of unprecedented liabilities, Fujiyama Crest started 2/1 favourite and, as he had done the previous year, made all the running to land the spoils. What henceforth became known as the ‘Magnificent Seven’ landed odds in excess of 25,000/1 at starting price and in excess of 235,000/1 at the best odds available.