Triumph and tragedy is the story of Stoute's sixth Derby success

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Princess Anne presents Sir Michael Stoute with the winning trainers prize after Desert Crown claimed his sixth Epsom Derby win. The first was in 1981 with the legendary and tragic Shergar.
Princess Anne presents Sir Michael Stoute with the winning trainers prize after Desert Crown claimed his sixth Epsom Derby win. The first was in 1981 with the legendary and tragic Shergar.

By James Toney at Epsom

Sir Michael Stoute has certainly lived that Kipling line about treating those twin imposters of triumph and tragedy both the same.

Stoute's first win at Derby in 1981 came with the legendary Shergar, whose tragic demise at the hands of kidnappers remains one of sport's greatest unsolved puzzles.

And his sixth win, as Desert Crown delivered on his pre-race favourite status for jockey Richard Kingscote, was particularly emotional, following the death two years ago of Stoute's long-term partner and huge influence in his team, Coral Pritchard-Gordon.

Stoute will turn 77 later this year and has certainly ridden life and racing's rollercoaster since he begged and borrowed the money to take out his training licence in Newmarket fifty years ago, before embarking on a career of unrivalled longevity.

And this success removed Mathew Dawson, one of the greatest trainers of the 19th century, from the record books - he saddled Derby winners 35 years apart in 1860 and 1895.

“Shergar was very special and Desert Crown hasn’t quite reached that stage, but he certainly has potential to get there," he said.

“It is a wonderful thrill to be back here at Epsom and winning this race again. You realise that as time goes on your chances lessen. I think a lot of you in the media didn’t I would do it again either.

“It is just a delight to train good horses and fortunately we’ve come across another very good one. I was very happy when he got to the top of the hill. He travelled beautifully and really floated down to the finish.”

Perhaps it was also fitting that a trainer old enough to remember the Coronation, which he watched as a schoolboy in Barbados, claimed the Cazoo Derby in this Platinum Jubilee year.

The Queen, in front of a television at Windsor in her 'comfy clothes’ according to granddaughter Zara Tindall, would almost certainly give it her seal of approval too.

It was Stoute who guided her beloved Estimate to victory in Royal Ascot's Gold Cup nine years ago, while he also trained her last big chance in the Derby - the only race that has alluded racing's biggest super fan - when favourite Carlton House finished third in 2012.

“It is very nice to win in the Jubilee year,” he added. “I’m still slightly sad we didn’t win it for her ten years ago.

“It is always nice to see her here racing, not just at Epsom, but Ascot, anywhere.

“I still think we were unlucky with Carlton House, that would have been the biggest."

Elsewhere, Andrew Balding nearly pulled off the biggest shock in Derby history as 150-1 shot Hoo Ya Mal stayed on brilliantly to finish best of the rest, while Ralph Beckett's Westover ran an equally huge race at big odds for third.

“I would have settled for that all day long and we're absolutely thrilled,” said Balding, whose also saw his 66-1 shot Masekela claim fourth.

“The horse settled really well and they've gone an honest gallop and he's got a lot of class, we always thought he was a lot better than his price.”

But this was Stoute's day, as he allowed himself a moment of reflection amid the celebration about what's been won and what's been lost.

“Things are very different in my life now,” he added. “Coral was very popular and great in every direction.

“I miss her and many others do too, she was a great contributor to what we do and having horses like this has given the yard a great lift.

“I just hoped another would come along and it did.”

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