One early morning a few years ago in the days when I still bought a Racing Post rather than access the online version, my regular source did not have a copy, writes Tony Stafford. Not to be outdone I jumped in the car and made a stop at Tesco’s big store at Bromley-By-Bow in between Hackney Wick and Bow.
With only one till open I took my copy and, from memory, a BLT sandwich and went to pay. The senior lady with her full Cockney accent, looked and said: “Oh, you like racing? My grandson’s in racing. He’s a jockey. He’s Richard Kingscote!”
Now more normally you might expect to find grandparents of jockeys to have farms in Limerick or Wiltshire or to have ridden themselves. I doubt Grandma Kingscote – it could just as easily have been Piggott, Eddery or Buick but I think that unlikely - woke to the sounds of horses’ nostrils snorting in her early days which I guessed might have been, like mine, in the East End of London with bomb craters from World War II lingering still around every corner.
I mentioned that meeting to Richard soon after and wish I’d have gone into his heritage a little more. I bet granny wouldn’t have expected her grandson to have made the remarkable change in his source and scene of employment, so secure did the Michael Owen/Andrew Black/Tom Dascombe and Kingscote combination appear then and for a few years after.
Kingscote jumped first, moving south to pick up good rides from Newmarket stables, notably for Sir Michael Stoute, increasingly denied use of his long-term stable jockey Ryan Moore by his lucrative, Classic-bountiful Coolmore job.
Then Dascombe clearly got the tin-tack and he now operates with a team of 13 in Lambourn. Whether he can reinvigorate his career will be a serious challenge, though his interview on Luck On Sunday yesterday related that he’s up for it. All a jockey needs when forced to make a move is a saddle, a pair of boots, an agent and a car to take him to as many stables as he can to ride out and make an impression. Would-be trainers must (for starters) convince the BHA that they have the financial resources to set up and carry their (hopefully) growing business.
It helps if your dad was/is a trainer and he can help you along in the manner of a Crisford, Gosden, Johnston or even a Ferguson. So much more power then to the elbows of such as Boughey and Clover. George went close again yesterday when 1,000 Guineas heroine, Cachet, made a brave attempt to follow up in the French 1,000 at Longchamp, finishing second to the Mikel Delzangles-trained Mangoustine, ridden by the remarkable Gerald Mosse.
Half an hour later the Godolphin blue (Charlie Appleby brand) followed their Newmarket 2,000 one-two with Coroebus and Native Trail by sending out Modern Games under William Buick to win the counterpart French colts’ Classic.
Unraced since winning the hotly-contested Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar last November, the son of Dubawi came home strongly and adds his name to the already formidable team for the Boys in Blue in the major mile races.
They will still have to go some to match the year-older Baaeed in that division after the William Haggas four-year-old brought his tally to seven from seven when winning the Lockinge at Newbury. He started that career less than a year ago on the same course and looks set to be put right to the top of the official rankings after this display.
To be more accurate, Baaeed didn’t just win, he made mincemeat of a strong field of milers and the disdainful three-and-a-bit lengths by which he beat the Saeed Bin Suroor-trained runner-up Real World (a Coolmore-type sighter?) suggests even Classic form later in the season from the best of the younger generation will not be enough to stop him.
The big two power-houses are as strong as ever, but Baaeed’s trainer, William Haggas, is making ever more forceful strides in their pursuit and Baaeed was one of 13 winners for his Newmarket stable in the past fortnight. If you don’t enjoy backing short-priced favourites, never mind, just make sure you take your place early on day one at Royal Ascot when this potential world champion will be the stand-out in the Queen Anne Stakes.
But Richard Kingscote has matters more immediate on his mind after last week’s Al Basti Equiworld Dubai Dante Stakes at York. Riding Sir Michael Stoute’s Desert Crown on only his second racecourse appearance, he brought the Nathaniel colt home well clear of a strong field to clinch what is often the best of the Derby trials.
Ryan Moore was third in the race on the Galileo colt Bluegrass and that colt is sure to do better in time. They were split by the Johnstons’ Royal Patronage who had run a reasonable race in the 2,000 Guineas, not far behind the principals having attempted to force the pace.
When Nathaniel made his racecourse debut at the Newmarket July meeting in the evening maiden race also chosen by Sir Henry Cecil for Frankel, both colts being by Galileo, there was only a half length between them at the line.
Frankel never lost a race; Nathaniel did, but also won plenty, including the King George and Eclipse at Group 1 level. He has been a great servant to Newsells Park stud where his fee for 2022 was only £15,000 but one eternal distinction is that his daughter Enable was probably the best filly to race in Europe in this century.
Now he could be getting his first Derby winner with a Tattersalls Book 2 purchase, admittedly bought for the respectable figure of 280,000gns. How this year’s Book 2 catalogue will celebrate him, Derby success or not!
Desert Crown has been brought along with typical patience by Sir Michael, who has five Epsom Derby winners to his credit, the last three since he was honoured by his home country Barbados for services unconnected to his profession. Ryan Moore rode the last of them, Workforce, in 2010 and was also on the Aidan O’Brien winner Ruler Of The World three years later.
The Derby can often throw up unexpected winning jockeys and you only have to go back to last year when Adam Kirby was the popular beneficiary of William Buick’s decision to ride third-placed Hurricane Lane, leaving Kirby to fill in on easy winner, Adayar.
O’Brien and Charlie Appleby between them have won the last five editions of the Blue Riband and only once has the stable first string been on the right one. That was Buick on Masar in 2018. Ryan has had to watch on from behind as first Padraig Beggy (on Wings Of Eagles), Seamie Heffernan on Anthony Van Dyck and, most recently, Emmet McNamara (Serpentine) won the spoils.
To think that Beggy and McNamara together have ridden as many Epsom Derby winners as the flawless Ryan Moore. As I mentioned last week, Ryan’s riding has been exemplary this season and I think we can expect a ride of supreme skill on Stone Age on June 4.
I have no idea whether Richard Kingscote’s grandma remains in good health. I hope she does and, even more fervently, that she has been gathered up by all the excitement that Richard will almost certainly be on the favourite that day; even more so that she can be there, because I’d love to meet her again!
One horse I would hope turns up on that day is Saturday’s stylish Newmarket sprint winner, Dusky Lord, who came through the eye of the proverbial needle to win the finale after a six-month absence.
I was happy to be representing part-owner Jonathan Barnett and, given the way in which he came through to make it three wins from six, I think this previous Brighton winner could win the Dash, a race I believe Raymond Tooth should have won with Catfish ten years ago.
The fact this remains the fastest-ever electronically-timed five-furlong race is a major achievement for John Best, who saddled the 50/1 winner Stone Of Folca to record a time of 53.69 seconds, which has never been beaten. That works out as an average speed for the entire trip of 41.9 miles per hour.
Catfish stayed on strongly after a tardy start to finish third in the big field, beaten for second by Andrew Balding’s Desert Law. But when Mikael Barzalona returned, he said: “She was unlucky. My saddle slipped at the start and the way she finished if I could have ridden her properly, I’m certain she would have won.”
David Egan reckoned after Saturday that Dusky Lord definitely needed the outing after his six-month absence. Now the Dash is back as a 100 grand race with half of that going to the winning owners. That’s worth going for, don’t you agree Roger?