Sir Michael takes guard for glory bid

Daily Mail - - Royal Ascot - JONATHAN McEVOY

SIR Michael Stoute, poor chap, is turn­ing into the Ge­of­frey Boy­cott of this Royal As­cot. He is the leg­end who is find­ing the fi­nal deep stride into the record books hard­est to take.

The ob­du­rate York­shire bats­man spent 33 in­nings, and many more sleep­less nights, try­ing in vain to score his 100th hun­dredth.

And here at As­cot, the fine trainer is stuck on 75 win­ners, level with the late, great boule­vardier Sir Henry Ce­cil.

Time and again Stoute has made the jour­ney from the weigh­ing room to prime his lat­est horse.

Ten of them. Re­sults: 14th, fourth, fourth, third, fourth, third, sec­ond, 10th, third, sixth. Near the tar­get of­ten, but no bulls­eye yet.

To­day of­fers fresh hope and the prospect of the most dra­matic fi­nale to a week of frus­tra­tion and pa­tience: vic­tory for Dart­mouth, owned by the Queen, in the Hard­wicke Stakes.

For Boy­cott the timing was fi­nally per­fect — the ton of tons com­ing not on some out-ground in a dis­tant shire, but at Head­in­g­ley in front of his ador­ing home faith­ful — and against Aus­tralia.

Stoute’s sense of the­atre would be im­pec­ca­ble if his high­est note formed part of the last-day cho­rus. Ten­sion?

‘No,’ said Stoute. ‘We’ve been able to have a Royal win­ner on a num­ber of oc­ca­sions, so there’s no pres­sure. He’s in good shape and he knows his way around the track. He’s solid.’

Dart­mouth beat High­land Reel here 12 months ago, putting him in line for suc­ces­sive glory, and lifted the York­shire Cup last month, sug­gest­ing form.

And, if Dart­mouth does not tri­umph, Stoute also has Across The Stars, win­ner of the King Ed­ward VII Stakes at this meet­ing last year, un­der his guid­ance. An­other pos­si­bil­ity is Khairaat in the Wolferton.

The first of Stoute’s two great hopes yes­ter­day was Crys­tal Ocean, the well- sup­ported 9-4 favourite in the King Ed­ward VII. A late fade put paid to his chances and he fin­ished third.

To Stoute’s — and the day’s — fi­nal race, the Duke Of Ed­in­burgh Stakes.

The du­ti­ful trainer stood at at­ten­tion as he spoke to the Queen, owner of Main­stream, in the pa­rade ring. He touched the right brim of his top­per and bowed as she took her leave.

Stoute said a few words to jockey Ryan Moore and tar­ried with a hand­ful of as­so­ciates on his way up to watch the race from on high. This time, is wasn’t even ter­ri­bly close: sixth.

Back in the lime­light for the first time since he won the Derby was Padraig Beggy, the Ir­ish­man who came from nowhere and slipped back into anonymity. Since his fairy­tale glory on the 40-1 shot Wings Of Ea­gles at Ep­som, he has had just seven rides — the last one prior to As­cot at Leop­ard­stown at 16-1. The rest have been 33- 1 or longer.

A work rider, rather than a star, his pri­mary job is to en­sure Ai­dan O’Brien’s run­ners are per­fectly pre­pared.

But, three years af­ter be­ing sus­pended for a year for tak­ing co­caine and giv­ing false ev­i­dence, he was on Hy­drangea (16-1) in the Corona­tion Stakes.

He is no stranger to Hy­drangea, hav­ing rid­den half of her 10 starts prior to yes­ter­day, when he pi­loted her to third.

So lo­qua­cious af­ter he won the Derby, he re­fused to speak to the press yes­ter­day, the al­lure of the at­ten­dant de­mands of fame seem­ingly fleet­ing.

PA

Record hope: can Dart­mouth (left) hit bulls­eye for Stoute?

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