SIR MICHAEL Stoute, one of the giants of the turf, is at his most animated when he is not talking about horse racing.
Born in Barbados, he was intrigued that Jamaican sprinter Johan Blake could open the bowling for Yorkshire. “I’ll have to have a word with Mikey (Holding). Blake likes to talk the talk...”
And he offered this insight into his stable jockey Ryan Moore moments after the Dante-winning jockey took the Sky Bet Yorkshire Cup aboard Gospel Choir.
“His only problem is that he’s an Arsenal fan,” Stoute told The Yorkshire Post.
“I told Fergie (ex-Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson) who despaired and then said ‘we can get tablets for that’.”
There was another roar of laughter from Stoute who then had every reason to be animated about his horses – Gospel Choir’s success came 30 minutes after Moore had guided stablemate Arab Spring, a horse still on the immature side, to victory in the Jorvik Stakes.
Both could reappear in the Hardwicke Stakes at Royal Ascot, though the likelihood is that they will be handed separate assignments.
Gospel Choir certainly has guts and is held in high regard by Stoute. Stepped up in distance after winning at Newmarket last month, he had to find hidden depths of reserves to repel the late and sustained challenge of Tac De Boistron, who will clearly relish an even longer trip – this race was over one mile and six furlongs – and softer ground.
The winning margin, a diminishing neck, suggests that Gospel Choir is unlikely to be an Ascot Gold Cup contender.
“Ryan had doubts about the trip and he gave him a very good ride,” said Stoute. “That was a very good horse he’s beaten, albeit he was getting 4lb from him.
“What’s very important to him is the ground; he doesn’t want bad ground. I’d think the Hardwicke would be favourite.”
In turn, Moore paid tribute to the trainer.
“This was a great piece of placing to go up in trip and win some very good prize money,” he said.
Tac De Boistron was doing his best work towards the finish, which reaffirmed trainer Marco Botti’s belief of the grey’s Gold Cup credentials if the ground is on the forgiving side.
Botti said: “The Gold Cup is the priority, but we would want cut in the ground, ideally. There is also the Irish St Leger later in the season and then back to France for the Cadran and the Royal-Oak.”
The Yorkshire Post’s 2014 racing columnist Daniel Tudhope enjoyed a lightning quick winner when partnering the aptly-named G Force to victory in the Ralph Raper Memorial Stakes for Nawton trainer David O’Meara.
This is, by all accounts, a sprinter that will only get better.
He is owned by Barton-upon-Humber-based Middleham Park Racing whose Nick Bradley said: “Plan A is the Reg Griffin back here.
“Danny said he was the fastest horse he’s ever sat on, though, so we’ll probably look at trying to win the Nunthorpe and the Abbaye in France.”
A great week for Yorkshire-trained horses saw the White Rose county record a ninth success courtesy of the Richard Fahey-trained Dusky Queen as the aforementioned Moore completed a treble.
This was a sun-soaked finale to the Dante week – yesterday’s crowd of 16,000 was up 14 per cent compared to 12 months ago.
As for the three-day meeting, it attracted a total attendance of 37,000 – an eight per cent increase on the 2013 total.
Brian Ellison seeks an elusive Group One victory today when he saddles Top Notch Tonto in Newbury’s JLT Lockinge Stakes.
The Malton trainer’s biggest concern is the ground, but his stable star is likely to take his place in the field.
“We will find out if he can compete in that class on decent ground,” said Ellison. “If not, we’re saving him for an autumn campaign.”
Prince Khalid Abdullah’s racing manager Lord Grimthorpe, the chairman of York, said beaten 2000 Guineas winner Kingman will seek to make amends in the Irish equivalent next weekend.
However, it is still unclear whether the Stoute-trained Snow Sky, winner of Lingfield’s Derby trial seven days ago, will line up in the Epsom Derby.
“He’s not a Derby horse. He’s a potential Derby horse,” added Lord Grimthorpe tantalisingly.