Jockey Kevin Stott’s new goal - riding top winners for trainer Kevin Ryan

KEVIN Stott is already widely regarded as one of the North’s most respected Flat riders. He’s also one of the most unlikely.

Hello Youmzain and Kevin Stott celebrate their win in the Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock last year. Photo: John Grossick and Haydock Park.

He could have been playing for Tottenham Hotspur last night if his childhood dream had come true. Instead, he was preparing for the biggest ride of his life aboard Hello Youmzain in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes at Royal Ascot.

Yet football’s loss has certainly become racing’s gain and the likable 25-year-old, who hails from near Copenhagen, hopes to reward the patience and loyalty shown to him by the Hambleton trainer Kevin Ryan and his team for nearly a decade.

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Though Stott hails from a racing family – his father rode in Denmark before becoming a trainer – football was always this Manchester United fan’s first love.

This was Hello Youmzain and Kevin Stott winning the 2019 Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock. Photo: John Grossick and Haydock Park Racecourse.

And it was only when he travelled to Britain to 2012 to begin work at Ryan’s burgeoning North Yorkshire yard that a career in the saddle beckoned.

It was also recognition that he wasn’t going to be a Premier League midfielder because of his slight build. “I had two weeks on trial with the Tottenham Under 15s,” racing’s great Dane told The Yorkshire Post.

“I was playing football in Denmark at quite a high level. We were playing all over Europe and a scout from Tottenham spotted me at a tournament in Holland.

“I was 14 and it was an amazing experience to be picked up from the airport and then train on the same ground as all the first team players. I’m small now, I was even smaller then, and it didn’t work out. When I got home, I said to Dad ‘I want to ride horses instead’. He then decided that he would send me to England.”

Hello Youmzain and Kevin Stott sprint clear in the 2019 Sandy Lane Stakes. Photo: John Grossick and Haydock Park Racecourse.

Stott, whose girlfriend Megan is a jockey and the daughter of top National Hunt trainer Paul Nicholls, has no regrets.

Apart from one brief spell in Newmarket with Luca Cumani, and the chance to ride for Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation, he’s become a mainstay of the Ryan yard.

And while there are occasions when owners demand a higher-profile jockey – Higher Youmzain being a case in point when James Doyle partnered the horse to victory in last September’s Group One Betfred Sprint Trophy at Haydock – the Scandinavian’s temperament helped him to understand the decision.

Yet he did partner the sprinter, who runs in the colours of Haras d’Etreham and Cambridge Stud, to victory in the Group Two Sandy Lane Stakes at Haydock in May last year before finishing third on Higher Youmzain in the Commonwealth Cup at Royal Ascot.

That Stott is back in the saddle for the Group One Diamond Jubilee, a reace that also features Richard Fahey’s Sands Of Mali for Malton, is testament to his quiet diplomacy and a strong start to the season that, before last night’s action, had yielded seven wins from 51 rides after racing’s resumption.

“I think Hello Youmzain has got a very good chance,” said the jockey. “He’s been working very well. He’s won on softer ground and also quicker ground. Ground-wise, he’s quite versatile.

“It’s not every day you get a chance like this. I am very fortunate to get back on him and he has got a big chance. I’ve never had a winner at Ascot before, never mind Royal Ascot. If I could win a Royal One, and a Group One too, I would be very, very happy.

“Never mind the crowd, there could be no prize money as long as it is a Group One winner next to my name. If it was at Royal Ascot too, it would mean even more.”

However Stott says he’s indebted to the faith shown by the horse’s trainer. “Kevin (Ryan) has a great record with two-year-olds and sprinters in general,” he said. “Now we have a few big owners, we are getting better horses like Juan Elcano who was good enough to be fourth in a very good 2000 Guineas.”

And Hello Youmzain? The rider says: “He’s very laid back. He’s a relaxed horse and he doesn’t get up worked up by anything. A lot can go on with horses but he takes it all in his stride.”

Just like Kevin Stott, the gifted footballer whose goal now is to ride winners.

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