A PUNTER who staked all he had on Frankie Dettori riding seven winners at Ascot is now living the high life as a multi-millionaire.
Joiner Darren Yates, 56, bet his last £62 — then used his £550,823 winnings to build a property and development empire he sold for £20million.
Darren recalled his life-changing wager with William Hill on September 29, 1996. He told how he had been denied a £700 overdraft just 24 hours earlier and had a bust-up with employees over their missed wages.
Of the fateful day, he said: “I’d been playing football for my local team in Morecambe and only caught the racing results over a post-game pint.
“I asked how it was going and they said Dettori had four out of four. I reckoned I’d won £700.
“Then Frankie’s fifth and sixth horses went in and I thought I was heading for the £24,000 mark.
“So I went down to the betting shop to watch the seventh race and just quietly sat there.
“I couldn’t believe it when Frankie stormed home. I asked the counter girl how much I’d won, thinking it would be about £50,000. When she told me it was over £500,000 I almost fainted.”
Dettori – who has announced his retirement at the end of 2023 – celebrated with his famous flying dismount.
Darren, who in one recent interview said people have praised him for ‘having really big balls’, said: “I went home and just burst out crying. I told my wife Annaley, ‘I’ve done it, darling. We’ve hit the big one’.
“She started crying. We sat there hugging each other for about an hour and we just couldn’t stop crying. That was the best moment of my life — knowing all our worries were over.”
He and Annaley, 55, moved from their cramped home into a mansion in the resort of Lytham St Annes, Lancashire.
Darren also bought a couple of horses for £10,000 each — and a series of three-bed semis for £20,000 to start a business he sold just before the pandemic.
He continued to bet but in larger sums and won hundreds of thousands before realising his dream with a runner in the Grand National in April last year. Blaklion, a 50-1 shot, came sixth, landing him another £22,500.
Now he is dreaming of going a few better and scooping another few hundred thousand in the big Aintree race in April with his horse Ashtown Lad.
The Dan Skelton-trained jumper is 20-1 with the bookies to win.
William Hill spokesman Rupert Adams said: “It’s a remarkable rags to riches story. Seeing Darren and Annaley with racing royalty in the parade ring was absolutely fantastic.”
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