Cricket-mad Michael Stoute, who coached his sixth Epsom Derby winner with Desert Crown on Saturday, is “more of a Test match than a T20 player” as he likes to be patient with his horses, said close friend Michael Holding to AFP.
At the age of 76, Stoute will not think of changing a formula that has worked so well for him, even when owners like most of us want “instant gratification”, the West Indies cricket icon added.
The Barbados-born Stoute would be a most fitting winner of this year’s race, named in honor of nine-time winning jockey Lester Piggott, who died on Sunday, and to mark the platinum anniversary of noted turfist Queen Elizabeth II.
Indeed, Stoute – who used to cycle to Barbados cricket ground as a Nipper to watch Len Hutton’s England and Keith Miller’s Australia play – memorably coached the Queen’s Estimate to win the 2013 Ascot Gold Cup.
The 96-year-old monarch has remained loyal to Stoute, as has Desert Crown owner Saeed Suhail, whose third Derby winner Kris Kin wore Suhail’s colors in 2003.
Holding says if you want a quick result, don’t go to the former Barbados police chief’s son.
“Unfortunately, the world is changing,” Holding told AFP over the phone from his home in the Cayman Islands.
“People want instant success just as they want to see the T20 more as Test cricket.
“Michael is a patient man who allows the horses to develop, they show him when they are ready.
“I don’t think any trainer has had as much success with older horses.
“He’s seen the trend, but it’s not going to change. After all, it has been successful for decades.
“He’s a friendly player, he’s not a T20 player.”
Holding fell in love with racing as a schoolboy in Jamaica and chuckles at his nickname “Tempus” after a racehorse “that wasn’t very good”.
His friendship with Stoute began in 1985, four years after the manager opened his Derby account with the brilliant but hapless Shergar.
While playing cricket for Derbyshire County he was invited to the Stoute Stables in Newmarket by a mutual friend.
“He loves cricket, especially West Indies cricket.
“I feel like a part of the court now, but oddly enough, when we go galloping in the car, we talk about cricket.”
– ‘A humble man’ –
The 67-year-old said Stoute is a very different person off the track than on it.
“Michael was never a great communicator,” said Holding, who, in contrast to his high school nickname, earned the somewhat intimidating nickname “Whispering Death” while leading the West Indies Pace Attack in the mid-1970s to late ’80s.
“He can go to his house and relax and go on relaxed and rack his brains.
“But then the people he has there are people he knows and respects and he can say anything and it’s not going to go any further.
“Even sometimes he goes back to his bayan twang… which he certainly doesn’t want to do in front of journalists.”
Holding – who misses the morning gallop more than cricket now that he has retired from commenting on the latter – says that despite his success over five decades like his late great rival Henry Cecil, Stoute never let it get to his head increases.
“It’s his nature. Henry Cecil was also a humble man.
‘I thought they must be enemies, but no way would they briefly chat about the Newmarket training gallops while riding their hacks.
“They respected each other.”
Holding says a measure of the man and his drive and love for the sport is how he carried on, even after his longtime partner Coral passed away in 2020.
“Everyone says will he pack?” said hold.
“I said to myself, ‘Pack up and do something? Sit around the house and watch TV and read the paper’… that’s not his style or life.
“Desert Crown could potentially win the derby and that would show people he’s not a spring chicken anymore, but he hasn’t lost his talent.
“He’s put so much time and effort into training that he’s not going to lose it like this.”
Stoute’s colt is a low-priced favorite due to his performance in the Dante Stakes Trial at York in only his second appearance on the track.