Frankie Dettori has a laugh and a thought about the other royals. He is at his favourite spot, racing’s palace in Ascot, and the old king is running breathless through some memories.

He is mostly concerned with his queen, his mate. She knows that her heart will forever belong to one of his little giant men, and this would be Lester Piggott. Always Lester at Number 1. Always Lester grasping him at the crown jewels. But Dettori has learnt to live with being second to his hero and so he is wearing that famous grin and hopping across the weighing room — his weighing room — as he shares a few of his classics.

He will eventually get to the tale of her Majesty’s dog, her carpet and their horse. Other stories about dinner and Gin are also in his future. But for now, as he bounces around in anticipation of Royal Ascot, which starts on June 14, and where he has ridden 76 winners, he wants to begin with a tale of a right royal ‘f*** up’.

Frankie Dettori recounted a hilarious tale of his first encounters with the Queen through racing

Frankie Dettori shares a humorous tale about the first time he met Queen Victoria through horse racing

‘Whenever I think about Royal Ascot I think about that,’ he says. ‘F****** hell, mate.’

The wait will last another five minutes, before he pauses. ‘It was the first day of Royal Ascot in 1994. Ian Balding was my main trainer. Only 23 at the time, I had the honour of wearing the colors on the peg: the red and purple with gold tassels.

‘But that week, racing for the Queen, was great. First day, there’s a man at the door of the weighing room. It’s Lord Carnarvon, the Queen’s racing manager.

‘I don’t know if you noticed but the more noble you are the bigger the hat and his is huge. He looks down his nose, “Do you know how to address the Queen, boy?” Not really. “You tip your hat, you bow and call her, Your Majesty, then you don’t speak until she speaks. If she does, you finish with Ma’am”.

The legendary jockey will forever have a place in Ascot folklore after his magnificent seven

Legendary jockey, after his incredible seven-year career, will be forever remembered by Ascot folklore.

‘I’m petrified but I went outside, saw her, bowed and said the right things and she doesn’t say a word. Day 2, she questions about my tactics. I nail it, no f*** up. The Gold Cup is day three. I’m getting good at this. “Good to firm, Ma’am”. It’s Saturday. I’m walking with two jockeys, talking cars and women, and there is none of the commotion you get when the Queen is near. But I glance up and she’s two steps in front of me. In complete shock, I blurt out, “How are ya?” like a mad cockney. She laughs, “I’m still here”, and then Lord Carnarvon kicked me in the shin.’

Dettori howls before he cuts his own throat. ‘My dog p***** on her rug once,’ he says, and away he goes again.

‘I won a big race in 2005 and had a party. The gates were left open after I got hammered. At some time in all that my dachshund ran away and we had a call in the morning from the Queen’s racing manager, Caroline, who lived nearby in Newmarket. “We found your dog, but we are just going to pick up the Queen from Sandringham and we are going somewhere — meet us there at 7pm.”

The jockey recounted a story of when his dog wee'd on a carpet at the Queen's residence

He told a story about how his dog got on a Queen’s carpet.

‘I shout out to the window to my wife Catherine, “Hey, the Queen has our dog”. She shouts back, “F*** off”, doesn’t believe me. Ella is my little daughter. We get ready together. The Queen arrives in her purple gown and is enjoying a glass of gin next to the fireplace. She was talking to Ella and it was lovely, but then they let the dog out and it was so excited it p***** on the Persian carpet. OK Frankie, time to go.’

As he laughs, he bangs his fist against the table. ‘I always love being around the Queen and it is one reason I love Royal Ascot. Here, I find my life. It is a special place and she is wonderful — she loves racing and meeting her is such a privilege. But… Lester she loves most.’

Piggott — the greatest Flat racer of them all, 116 Ascot winners. This interview was conducted shortly before his death, but the Queen was not alone in her deep affection for a man later described by Dettori as his ‘friend and hero’.

‘He will always be her favourite,’ says Dettori. ‘I went to Windsor Castle this one year for a pre-Ascot dinner. I was talking to her and then she suddenly says, “Frankie, go get me Lester”. This is what he said to me. He is ahead of me.’

The claim can’t be made by anyone else. Ascot, and nearly every other sport field.

Dettori, a Peroni ambassador, poses with a specially commissioned piece of art by Clym Evern

Dettori, a Peroni ambassador, with a specially commissioned piece of art by Clym Evernden

Dettori pictured at last week's Epsom Derby meeting - the jockey has no plans to stop riding

Dettori seen at Epsom Derby last week. The jockey doesn’t plan to quit riding.

It’s a very funny place, the weighing area. Frankie Dettori is an old man. He was raised by his dad, a famous Italian jockey and his mother, a performer in the circus. The son took both of them and has shared it for the past 35 seasons.

He will be 52 before this year is out and when he talks about the life cycle of a jockey, it is told in the context of one’s place in a weighing room. Jockeys, like their horses, have a hierarchy. Even the wild boys who didn’t grow up, everyone has their time. This terrifies him.

‘I know the end will come,’ he says, and for once in this conversation he offers no punchline.

The Italian alongside trainer Donnacha O'Brien at Epsom last Saturday ahead of the Derby

The Italian alongside trainer Donnacha O’Brien at Epsom last Saturday ahead of the Derby

‘It scares me. My dad, Gianfranco, is 81, he told me, “One day it will come, so ride as long as you can”. When will I retire? People always ask and I attempt to answer their questions by talking about other things. This life will not be easy. Look at this place, mate.’

He shows the room to him, pointing around its long rectangle. There are seats along each of four walls and pegs between them. They are located in the middle wall closest to the door.

‘In most weighing rooms, you start on the back wall and as people retire you move towards the door, until you are next out. This is also where you will find me in many other locations. Ascot is something else.

‘I love it here. It’s hard to imagine all the sounds. There are dozens of men shouting, laughing, and fighting. The best part is that we all share the same age, so it’s timeless when we go in.

‘When Royal Ascot is on, there will be kids who are 16 and an old fart like me, all wanting the same thing. This is why it can be so difficult to let go. Is there a secret way to remain young? Here you have it.’ For the briefest of moments, he almost looks sad. It isn’t the same persona that we have grown to love. Fun-time Frankie is the one that we recognize. Flash Frankie, with four Ferraris. Frankie is the joker of Question of Sport.

Dettori says the feeling of Royal Ascot makes it 'very difficult' for him to let go and retire

Dettori said that the Royal Ascot feel makes it very difficult to give up and take his retirement.

Frankie, who leapt out of his saddle after his seven-times here triumph 26 years ago, has never landed. Frankie has a career record of 3,305 wins, as well as a couple other drugs. Across almost four decades, right back to when he was sent by his father to Newmarket, a 14-year-old boy with £366 in his pocket, those have been Dettori’s faces to the world.

‘We all have fears,’ he says. ‘Stopping is mine and it is a fear that now pushes me.’

The silence is brief and Dettori looks into the empty space that all athletes have to face. But, as fast as Dettori left, Dettori returned lighter.

‘The kids in here now will probably want to push me out of that door,’ he says. ‘I’m scratching on the wall, holding with my teeth, “Don’t take me, I am not ready”.’

The jockey says his fear is that of stopping and retiring from the sport that he so dearly loves

He fears the thought of giving up on his sport, which he has so deeply loved.

The good times are still rolling, and he is smiling again. He has been hired on this day to launch Ascot’s partnership with Peroni, and a few weeks before we met he pocketed £530,000 for winning his fourth Dubai World Cup.

‘I have five kids and school fees takes the money,’ he says. ‘Although I might actually have to get a new couch. Our German Shepherd is at home. It f****** eats everything and it got at the couch. It was a long debate between my wife and I about the best couch to replace it. It arrived today and just now, before you come in, she says it is uncomfortable.’

He then drifts back towards racing, and the question of what was versus who is. From the moment he arrived in Milan, he was instructed by his father to swim or sink. By 1990, he became the first teenager to ever ride 100 winners during a single season. He was so flash back then, or in his words ‘a bit of a d***head’, losing himself among women, drugs and hangers-on.

Dettori's legendary flying dismount after landing yet another winner at Epsom last week

After landing another Epsom winner last week, Dettori performed a legendary flying dismount.

It’s funny to see it from the perspective of an old man, as he watches the ambitious young jockeys rise up on the rail. ‘I try to help the kids out but they know it all,’ he says. ‘When I was a kid I was made to ask the older jockeys how to do stuff. These guys are much more powerful than I am so I’m likely to get an ax if they say something wrong!

‘But actually I was probably the same.’

He recalls a meeting with Piggott who was 35 years older than him. This is a story that dates back to the Nineties, when Piggott was 55 years old and making a comeback.

‘Lester was not as intimidating to me as he was for my other colleagues because I grew up in Italy so I didn’t know how powerful he was,’ he says. ‘I actually raced for him when he was a trainer and I used to take the mickey, call him an old fart, tell him he would be stuffed and put in a museum.

A tribute to the Queen at Epsom last Saturday on the date of her Platinum Jubilee

An Epsom tribute to Queen Elizabeth II on Saturday, the day of her Platinum Jubilee

‘Then he started racing again and we raced at Goodwood. Just as we were about to turn around, he noticed a gap between the cameras. He reached for my legs and squeezed them. Aaarrrrggh. He looks at me and says, “That is a lesson”.

‘It tells you something — the old boys always know a bit more.’

Now, the boy is an old man. The whole lot has passed him by, from victories to the chaos of the 2012 cocaine ban and all that in-between, even the 21 year old plane crash in which Patrick Mackey was killed, almost taking Dettori. A large scar still marks his forehead.

Dettori has been through his ups and downs but he bounces back every morning at Newmarket. ‘You fall harder as you get older,’ he says. ‘Your bones break more.’ He counted recently and he has done 10 and had five surgeries, which he reckons is ‘mid-range’ for the gig.

The Italian aboard Stradivarius who will have one final crack at the Gold Cup at Ascot

Stradivarius’s Italian crew will take one more shot at Ascot’s Gold Cup.

‘The harder bit now is the weight. I do an hour in the gym every day.’ But he is still winning and still chasing. He is not interested in the small meets and sees himself more as a senior big-game player. This brings us to Ascot where he is second on the all time list. ‘I’ll never catch Lester,’ he says. ‘But if I can get to 77 that would be nice. And then 78…’

With his statue long mounted on these grounds, Dettori’s legacy is already secured. Dettori wants to send off Stradivarius as a great thoroughbred, who he met at the Gold Cup. Stradivarius has three victories and is one short of Yeats’ record. ‘I will cry for sure when the race is done,’ says Dettori.

The sentiment seems to hold true for man as well as horse. ‘I just don’t want it to stop,’ he says, and for a second time the smile disappears. He points at the bench near the door.

‘I wish I could go back to that bottom peg and start over again,’ he says. ‘I’d give all 3,000 wins to do it again, to have all that fun.’

You do not doubt it.

Frankie Dettori was speaking to the Daily Mail as a Peroni Nastro Azzurro ambassador after the Italian beer brand becomes ‘The Official Beer of Ascot Racecourse’. Clym Evenden is an internationally acclaimed artist who created a new piece at Ascot.