Royal trainer Sir Michael Stoute hopes Desert Crown can pull off the Platinum Jubilee Derby
Sir Michael Stoute cooled off by Platinum Jubilee Derby as royal coach hopes Desert Crown can secure success
The Queen has no runner in Epsom next Saturday to try and secure the dream result in the Platinum Jubilee Derby, but no doubt it will give her great pleasure if Desert Crown can win.
The 7-4 favorite will be bidding for the most coveted prize in British flat racing for Sir Michael Stoute, the trainer who has provided the Queen with more than 100 winners.
Stoute nearly handed the Queen the Derby victory that always eluded her when Carlton House finished third in 2011. As a savvy student of the sport of kings, the Queen will know only too well what a sixth victory at the Derby would mean for 76- Stoute, a year.
Sir Michael Stoute (R) hopes Desert Crown, ridden by Richard Kingscote (L) can pull off the Platinum Jubilee Derby
In the past two years since his longtime partner Coral Pritchard-Gordon passed away in 2020, Stoute has rarely been seen on the racetrack.
The 10-time champion trainer’s chain of thoroughbreds from Newmarket Stables is healthy but well below peak numbers.
Twelve years after Workforce gave Stoute his fifth Derby winner, and without a rider in the showpiece event since 2016, some were beginning to question whether his hopes of adding to an Epsom honor roll led by his triumph of 1981 with Shergar were over.
But if Desert Crown could win him the Derby again, the Epsom crowd would surely give Stoute an electrifying welcome.
Stoute, who doesn’t get emotional, at least not in public, said: “I can’t remember if I sat down and thought, I don’t know if I’ll win the Derby again.” You move on and train what you have. You may have surprises, you may have disappointments.
When asked if he was thinking about retiring, he replied, “I’ve probably thought about it for the past 30 years!” If you’re having a really bad day, you think, “Do I really need this?” “You have very disappointing days, but I hope that my enthusiasm will not fade.
If Desert Crown manages to win the Derby, Stoute will get a superb reception
“I hope I’m doing my job well. The manpower is reduced and we have a smaller unit. We’ll see what happens and play at the box office.
The phrase is a reminder that the Barbadian who came to Britain in 1964 as a horse-mad teenager to work as an assistant to Malton coach Pat Rohan, loves his cricket.
Stoute says he’s been considering retirement for 30 years but hopes his enthusiasm is still strong
He also likes a cricket analogy. He is keen to stress that he really isn’t ‘outcast’ when competing against the ‘young puppies’ who are now his neighbor trainers in Newmarket.
Those younger colleagues might hit him for six when it comes to smoother PR, but Stoute has five decades of training experience and knows a potential Derby winner when he sees one.
Michael Stoute is congratulated by the Queen after Shergar won the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes in 1981
It didn’t take many cues when Shergar, still the 10-length record winner, arrived and landed him his first Derby at the age of 35. “Shergar was a machine,” Stoute said. “He had a wonderful temperament as well as being a really well-rounded mid-size athlete.”
On the other hand, Desert Crown, ridden by Richard Kingscote, is relaxed and discreet on the gallops. But when he arrives on the track, the instinct to run faster than the others is triggered.
The colt is owned by Dubai businessman Saeed Suhail, owner of 2003 Stoute Derby winner Kris Kin.
Stoute described Shergar as a “machine” and praised his “wonderful temper”
Desert Crown was an ill-considered 11-1 shot when they edged a Nottingham maiden by five lengths on their November debut.
Stoute then warned the colt was only just set to return after a bruised hoof interrupted his training before he landed at this month’s Dante Stakes in York.
It looked like the standout performance of this season’s Derby Trials, but Stoute knows nothing can be taken for granted around the unique gradients that make Epsom Downs such a challenge.
“It was a good performance in a good time in the Dante that puts him in the game. He’s probably the most inexperienced horse I’ve ever taken to racing, but he has a good mind.
“You get tense with any horse that’s in a big race. I may look a little more relaxed, but I could pretend!