Stoute’s Desert Crown performs royally in the derby

Desert Crown handed trainer Michael Stoute his sixth win in the Epsom Derby on Saturday, which was part of Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.

Stoute lifted his hat as the 5-2 favorite under Richard Kingscote, who was only playing in his second derby, went wide of the post.

Stoute, at 76 the oldest trainer to win the flat blue ribbon, had sent Kris Kin to Derby success back in 2003 for Desert Crown owner Saeed Suhail.

Barbados-born Stoute won his first derby in 1981 with the brilliant but ultimately unlucky Shergar.

“He (Desert Crown) is a lovable athlete,” Stoute told Racing TV.

“He’s got a lot of talent and a good mind,” Stoute added, putting his finger to his head.

Desert Crown was the first favorite to come out on top since Golden Horn in 2015.

All was not smooth as police had to remove a group of female protesters on the home stretch before the big race.

Stoute’s victory would have delighted the 96-year-old Queen, who has missed the Derby for only the third time in her 70-year reign – apart from the two Covid-hit races – as Stoute trained her horse Estimate to win the 2013 Ascot gold Cup.

Princess Anne stepped in to represent the Queen and she didn’t leave empty-handed when the racecourse presented her with a painting of the Monarch’s 1977 Epsom Oaks winner, Dunfermline, which came to mark her Silver Jubilee.

Kingscote’s ride would have delighted nine-time Derby winning jockey Lester Piggott. He died last Sunday and Saturday’s race was named in his honor.

It was a much happier Derby day for Kingscote than the last time he was driving to Epsom and his car went flat when he had to be bundled into another motorist’s car by his wife.

“I can’t put it into words, when I was a kid I was useless,” Kingscote said.

“I’ve had a lot of support.

“Obviously he has a lot of class, he jumped great, positioned himself, traveled great and settled really well.

“He’s got class, has given me a lot of confidence, it’s all about him and Sir Michael.”

Ashleigh, wife of the tattooed, motorcycle-loving winning jockey, was not only relieved to actually see the Derby, but delighted for her husband.

“You hope for the best but expect the worst,” she said.

“Like what happened to the car last time!!

“Are we going to celebrate? Knowing Richard, probably a Red Bull!! Although we have some champagne in the car.”

– “I’m just a rascal” –

Desert Crown crossed the famous finish line two and a half lengths ahead at 150-1 outside Hoo Ya Mal, while Westover was just a head away at 25-1 in third place.

Westover’s jockey Rob Hornby was not thrilled as his horse came home like a train after being severely disabled down the stretch.

“We had a great start, I was pretty happy, I had Desert Crown in mind,” said Hornby.

“I had the gap, then it closed faster than I could get in.

“It’s tough because he rattled home really well. It is frustrating.”

Despite the Queen’s absence – she was scheduled to watch TV from Windsor Castle – Epsom celebrated her platinum anniversary in style.

Riding greats AP McCoy, Willie Carson, Frankie Dettori, Ryan Moore and American Steve Cauthen were among the 40 jockeys who rode for them and dressed in their silks.

They formed an honor guard to greet Princess Anne when she arrived at the circuit in a limousine.

“Winning the Oaks on Dunfermline Silver Jubilee was a fairy tale,” said 79-year-old Carson.

Royal trainers William Haggas – Piggott’s son-in-law – Nicky Henderson, John Gosden and Andrew Balding were also on parade to greet Princess Anne and her daughter Zara Tindall.

Henderson was expected to deliver a winner for the Queen that day, albeit in the less glamorous setting of Worcester Racecourse.

The entire royal jamboree left jockey Martin Dwyer – who showed up for the honor guard despite suffering a leg injury – in a state of stunned excitement.

“I’m just a rascal from a council estate, I’m so honored to be here,” said Martin Dwyer.

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