Stoute reveals how The Queen broke off from Platinum Jubilee celebrations to congratulate him on Cazoo Derby win

June 6, 2022

Trainer Sir Michael Stoute has revealed that The Queen broke off from her Platinum Jubilee celebrations on Saturday afternoon to congratulate him on winning the Cazoo Derby.

The pair spoke after Desert Crown gave Stoute a sixth victory in the Epsom Downs Classic.

Her Majesty had been due to attend the Cazoo Derby as part of the official Platinum Jubilee celebrations but instead watched the racing on television from Windsor Castle, with The Jockey Club sending souvenir racecards to the royal residence to help her to enjoy the action from home.

Stoute saddled The Queen’s most recent Group One winner when Estimate triumphed in the 2013 Gold Cup at Royal Ascot and had hoped to have a runner for her at Epsom Downs on Derby Day. However, having entered Just Fine in the penultimate race of the day, the World Pool Northern Dancer Handicap, the horse was not confirmed at the declaration stage on Thursday.

Asked what it was like to receive a congratulatory message from the monarch, the Newmarket trainer laughed: “I forgot what it was like! Yes, I spoke to The Queen late afternoon. She was very pleased for the team.”

Stoute went on to explain that his late partner Coral Pritchard-Gordon had been very much on his mind since Saturday’s success and that he is looking forward to catching up with his great friend Michael Holding, the retired West Indies bowler.

He continued: “I’ve not spoken to Michael but I think he rang my daughter and there was a piece in the paper where he had a lot to say. I will catch up with him very soon.

“I think a lot of people were also thinking that Coral wasn’t there. A lot of us missed her not being there.”

Desert Crown’s victory on Saturday ensured that he maintained his unbeaten record on just his third racecourse appearance and Stoute is taking time to enjoy the Nathaniel colt’s impressive win.

He added: “The last 48 hours have been a bit hectic but very enjoyable as well. He has only just run. He just had a nice long walk this morning and we will determine in the week how he has bounced out of it.

“You don’t get too excited – if you have been in this game as long as I have you keep calm!

“I was leaving the race to the jockey as I had done my bit. I think the first four furlongs at Epsom is very important when they get to the top of the hill. I was very pleased with the position he was in when he arrived up there. The race really went for him and there was no panic at any stage.

“I think his temperament (sets him apart from others) and he is a very nicely-balanced horse so I thought he would handle the track very well. The jockey (Richard Kingscote) was pretty calm and he gave him a lovely ride. It was a delightful afternoon.

“All those Derby winners have to be good mentally as they go through a lot. There is nowhere else you canter a mile and a half to post and hang around. They have got to have a good mind.

“It did concern me (his lack of experience). I would have liked him to have been more seasoned but we couldn’t do that. It was annoying he only had one race as a two year old and I wanted at least two into him before The Derby but it wasn’t possible and he overcome that.”

It was winning jockey Richard Kingscote’s first Derby success on just his second ride in the world’s most famous Flat race and Stoute was keen to pay tribute to him.

He continued: “He is a thorough professional and we knew that. I had full confidence in him. He couldn’t have been calmer or done a better job.

“Ryan (Moore) has first choice on the horses here but Richard has been a great part of the team recently and they have a good rapport to which helps. They discuss the horses which is good.

“I can’t remember exactly how we hit it off but he is a very calm professional fellow. We’ve never had a problem put it that way.”

Desert Crown’s victory was the second for owner Saeed Suhail, following the success of the Stoute-trained Kris Kin in 2003 and the trainer is grateful for Suhail’s ongoing support.

He said: “He has won a Derby with Kris Kin and a 2000 Guineas (with King’s Best in 2000). We’ve had a lot of nice horses for Saeed. He has done us proud and I hope we have done him proud.”

As to the future, there are no concrete plans for Desert Crown’s next appearance.

Stoute explained: “He has been there and done that (10 furlongs) in the Dante so that is not a problem, 10 furlong pace, but we won’t be deciding in a hurry (which route to go) we will just take our time.

“They are all individuals, they are all different really they truly are. I wouldn’t make comparisons with any other the Derby winners at this stage but he has just a brimful of promise. His three racecourse appearances have all been very impressive.

“It is just under 48 hours (since he won) so we are not thinking of the next start yet. We are going to have a good look at him and get him cantering and observe him.

“It is nice to win them (Irish Derby and King George) but I don’t know what route he would be going. I’ve no intention of making a plan two days after the race.”

The success of Desert Crown was a sixth Derby win for Stoute following Shergar (1981), Shahrastani (1986), Kris Kin (2003), North Light (2004) and Workforce (2010). Only Aidan O’Brien (eight wins) and Fred Darling (seven wins) have saddled a greater number.

Paying tribute to his team, Stoute said: “We have a really experienced, dedicated team here. It is not just me there are many other links involved. They have all felt good including this one.

“Saturday evening about eight or 10 people crept into the house and drank a lot of my wine!

“We’ve got one or two very good individuals but we are not brimming with talent. We just operate from the one yard now. We are grateful for what we have got and we will do the best we can with them.”

At 76, Stoute is now the oldest known trainer to have enjoyed Derby success. Asked if he has the same drive as when he started training he concluded: “I can’t be the judge of that as it was so long ago I can’t remember!

“Some mornings you are bouncier than others it depends what has happened the day before. It doesn’t do you any harm winning a race like this and it is great for morale all the way round.

“There always has been a good team spirit here and if you don’t have that you are not going to be successful. It is all about the team and the team work.”

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