Desert Crown annihilates rivals to win the Epsom Derby in impressive fashion with Sir Michael Stoute’s classy favourite putting the race to bed quickly in the home straight
The Platinum Jubilee Derby script was not perfect — the Queen did not have a runner and had to watch the Classic from Windsor Castle rather than the royal box at Epsom — but a stunning win for Desert Crown and royal trainer Sir Michael Stoute was the next best thing.
It was the performance from the Richard Kingscote-ridden 5-2 favourite that made history with 76-year-old Stoute becoming the oldest winning trainer in the race’s 243-year history.
But, equally importantly, Desert Crown produced the exhilarating performance that this momentous stage warranted.
Desert Crown stormed to success in the Cazoo Derby at Epsom Races on Saturday afternoon
Desert Crown pulled clear to provide Sir Michael Stoute with his sixth victory in the Classic
Owner Saeed Suhail (right) with the Princess Royal (left) and trainer Sir Michael Stoute (second left) after jockey Richard Kingscote (third left) guided Desert Crown to victory
CHANNON TO SELL
Former England striker Mick Channon, who has forged a hugely successful second career as a racehorse trainer, has put the historic West Ilsley stable in Berkshire that he bought from the Queen in 1999 up for sale, writes Marcus Townend.
The stable, which boasts extensive facilities over a 62-acre site, is where the late Dick Hern trained the Queen’s Dunfermline to win the Oaks in 1977, Silver Jubilee year. A price tag of £6,975,000 has been slapped on the stable but there are options to split it up into as many as six separate lots.
Jack Channon, assistant trainer to his 73-year-old father, insisted that plans were being put in place for him to ultimately take over the reins. He said: ‘We are looking to modernise. West Ilsley is an old place and it won’t be long before I start training. I’m looking to run a business out of a modern place. Just because it is on the market doesn’t mean we are necessarily going to sell. We are exploring all avenues.
‘It should give us an idea of what is going to happen in the next few years. Dad is coming to the end of his time and I am looking to start.’
The first favourite to win since Golden Horn in 2015 cruised throughout and put the race to bed in a few strides two furlongs out.
For a moment it looked as if the 10-length winning margin of Stoute’s first Derby win in 1981 with Shergar might be in range.
In the end Desert Crown crossed the line two-and-a-half lengths clear of 150-1 shot Hoo Ya Mal with the unlucky-in-running Westover flying home and missing out on second by a neck.
But 35-year-old Kingscote, who fostered his love of horses as a teenager working with ponies to give holidaymakers rides on Brean beach near Weston-super-Mare, never had a worry.
He nervelessly executed the perfect race-plan in only his second Derby ride, shouldering huge pressure given the expectations the Stoute team had for Desert Crown.
Stoute, in his 50th season as a trainer, now has six Derby wins with Desert Crown carrying the same colours of Dubai businessman Saeed Suhail that were sported by his 2003 winner Kris Kin.
But making this one more special for him was the fact that plenty thought the days of a Derby winner for the 10-time champion trainer had gone. It was 12 years since Workforce had given him his last Derby win and he had not had a runner since Across The Stars and Ulysses were unplaced in 2016.
Asked if he thought his Derby-winning days were behind him, Stoute said: ‘I didn’t know. You do realise as time goes on your chances lessen. It has been a lot of years which I didn’t think there would be.
‘It is a wonderful thrill for the whole yard. It is a delight to train good horses and fortunately we have come across another good one.’
Kingscote was full of praise for Desert Crown, who was having just his third racecourse outing
Tellingly, when asked how highly he rated Desert Crown, who was racing for only the third time, Stoute added: ‘Shergar was very special. He hasn’t quite reached that stage but he has potential. We were very hopeful after he won that Dante Stakes at York that he might win the Derby. His performance delighted me, as he had it won a long way out. He has got such a good mind to go with his ability.’
Asked if it was extra special to win the Platinum Jubilee Derby, Stoute spared a thought for the royal winner that got away with the Queen’s 2011 Derby third Carlton House. ‘It is very nice but I’m sad I didn’t win it for her as I think we were unlucky with Carlton House. That would have been the biggest thrill,’ said the trainer. If Stoute is a Derby old hand — the first of his 38 Derby runners was unplaced Hills Yankee in 1978 — Kingscote is a big-race rookie.
The man who spent 12 years riding for Tom Dascombe’s Cheshire stable owned by former England striker Michael Owen, had won only two Group One races and this was his first British Classic success. Watched by his wife Ashleigh and sons William and Sebastian, the jockey with a love of fast motorbikes and a penchant for tattoos, admitted he had day-dreamed about this and had goose bumps as Desert Crown crossed the line.
Kingscote joins an elite band of riders to have partnered a Derby winner for Stoute
Kingscote, who said he might now treat himself to a Ducati, said: ‘It took a lot of guts from Sir Michael and the owner to maybe stick with me in a Derby. I’m very grateful to them. I am not a champion jockey, I’m not Ryan Moore. I’ve had a good career but I’ve not had a starlit career. It takes a lot of support for them not to look elsewhere.’
The hard luck story was Ralph Beckett-trained Westover, whose run was checked just as Desert Crown was going for home. It cost him second but it is hard to argue it cost him the race.
Jockey Rob Hornby said: ‘It’s tough. You’d love to be beaten fair and square but we didn’t really have that. It didn’t go our way but we have a hell of a horse.’