A mesmerising racing week

There is no other sport with racing’s twists and turns. Nothing else delivers the consistent dizzy highs and unexpected lows in what may be ordinary or major sporting weeks. There is a surprise around every corner, careers are made in minutes and others are set back or interrupted in seconds.

Last Monday we were informed of the death of Lester Piggott – it turned the racing world upside down in a day, reminded all of us how great The Long Fellow was. Tributes for the great man are still pouring in, a week later.

On Tuesday we at the IRC (and our Members) had 10-year-old Doc Sportello running over 6f at Brighton – he had moderate form coming into what looked like a competitive lower-tier handicap and was ‘just another runner’ until we received trainer Tony Carroll’s confidence. IRC members got on, some at 12-1, and ‘The Doc’ gave us an incredible thrill with a flashy win under in-form jockey Jason Watson. Doc Sportello is likely to return to the same course and distance tomorrow and we’re wondering, can he do it again? Become an IRC racehorse owner.

Watson, excited for his first ride in the Derby last Saturday, was on his way to the start for a race at Doncaster on Friday evening when he was dislodged and fractured his collar bone. Watson was replaced on Masekela by Andrea Atzeni, who rode the talented three-year-old into fourth behind Desert Crown. “Jason is just looking forward now, there’ll be other years for him, hopefully,” commented his agent, Chris Dixon.

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MODEST MEN WITH CHAMP: Kingscote and Stoute with Desert Crown.

Sir Michael Stoute trained his sixth Derby winner when Desert Crown flattened his opposition on Saturday afternoon. The humble man who prefers to be called ‘Michael’, even by those who meet him for the first time, deflected praise in his usual fashion.

Whilst Stoute raised his top hat to salute Desert Crown crossing the winning line, three cheers rang out for him as he became at 76 the oldest trainer to win the ‘blue riband’ of flat racing.

“It was wrong, it should have been for the horse,” joked Stoute. “I appreciate it though. It has been a great afternoon. I am to be proud of that (oldest trainer to win the Derby at age 76), I’m proud of the horse.”

“He is no longer a spring chicken but he has not lost his talent,” said Stoute’s friend, Michael Holding.

The winning jockey, Richard Kingscote,  began his journey by helping out with pony rides as a holiday job. He learnt to ride at the age 19, thanked his previous boss Tom Dascombe and said: “I was useless, but I had help along the way. I think it is quite surreal; as a jockey, maybe you don’t see yourself amongst jockeys like that, and it’s only through support of other people that we are able to do it.

“I think it took a lot of guts from Sir Michael and the owner to maybe stick with me in a Derby as it is, so I am very grateful to them for supporting me and letting me ride a very good horse. 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. I think it takes a lot of support for them not to look elsewhere.

“In the last two years, being supported by the likes of Sir Michael gives you confidence as a rider, and I think it’s done me good.”

During COVID-induced lockdown, Kingscote worked with a local motorcycle racer and learned how to strip the engine of his Yamaha R6 bike.

“I will race it one day but not while I’m doing well riding horses. A friend says I’d be competitive in amateur racing but professionals? They’d come past like I was stood still,” he said.

Also on Saturday, the IRC’s part-owned two-year-old colt, Captain Bombshell (33-1), finished a surprising fourth to Thunderstruck in the G1 Gold Medallion at Scottsville. He’s a Maiden still (what price next time?) and looks to have a bright future as he is still learning to race.

Let the last week in racing remind us then: Bad things happen to all of us, but stunning surprises may lurk at the next turn. When you’re a racing person, especially, this very new week may bring fortune or even fame. Even for those of us who just have the occasional flutter.

Hang in there, team!

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LOONY BINSTERS: Wild horses could not drag them away… 

A group of female protesters who ran onto the track before the Derby were taken away by police after causing the race to be delayed.

The protesters appeared to be holding banners and laid on the ground in the middle of the course around 75 yards from the finish line. Police and security quickly intervened and dragged them away.

Videos on social media showed the protesters being carried off into a police van. Animal rights campaign group Animal Rebellion has claimed responsibility for the incident, stating that six of their members “entered the course at Epsom with sashes reading ‘Animal Justice'”.

A representative group of racegoers met with Epsom course authorities after the race day to discuss the incident. Unconfirmed reports have it that Epsom will allow the protest to take place unhindered next year, as long as the protestors are fully naked. We’ve contacted Epsom Chair Brian Finch for a comment.

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Aside from the fun and success on our racehorse ownership side, Joao Da Mata is doing consistently well in our Sports and Racing Service to Members, with seven winners from his last 13 selections, including the mentioned Dox Sportello.

Meanwhile Golf Guru Warren Todd sits on a 104-point profit for members this year alone. We’re already looking forward to next month’s 150th Open Tournament at St Andrews.

Join us for the ride, click on box, just below.  -IRC.

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