Kevin Stott heads to France on Sunday hoping to experience more of the Group 1-winning elation he enjoyed at Royal Ascot on Hello Youmzain, which propelled him into the jockeys’ premier league.
As a 14-year-old, Stott, born in Copenhagen, Denmark, had a two-week trial with Tottenham Hotspur, but when that did not work out he decided to follow his English father Ken and brothers into a career in horse racing.
Now 26 he has confirmed he made the right choice, making his breakthrough at Group 1 level on Hello Youmzain in the Diamond Jubilee Stakes in June during a heady 35 minutes in which he also rode Hey Jonesy to victory in the ultra-competitive Wokingham Handicap.
Stott and the Kevin Ryan-trained Hello Youmzain are reunited at the Normandy seaside racecourse of Deauville for the Group 1 Prix Maurice de Gheest.
The six-and-a-half-furlong sprint brings the pair up against the unbeaten Andre Fabre-trained three-year-old Earthlight, Commonwealth Cup winner Golden Horde and Space Blues, winner of the Lennox Stakes at Glorious Goodwood for Charlie Appleby. Hello Youmzain also has to improve on a disappointing fifth place in the July Cup last time.
“He didn’t particularly handle coming down the hill at Newmarket as well as we thought,” said Stott. “I think the step up to six and a half furlongs will help him because he did see the stiff six out at Ascot really well.”
The notices Stott received in June have helped establish him as one of the go-to riders at meetings in the north, where he is based with Yorkshire trainer Ryan, and Scotland and his career is flourishing. With 42 wins he is already ahead of last year’s score. He continued his fine form on Saturday by winning the feature Group 3 Sweet Solera Stakes at Newmarket on 66-1 chance Star Of Emaraaty.
“I don’t know if that is what it had to take for other trainers to use me and prove that I am good enough,” he said. “I feel more confident than I ever have. If the trainers I ride for believe in me it makes my job a lot easier. Riding with confidence in this sport is a big thing.”
Sprinters of the future meet at the Curragh where another British Royal Ascot winner, The Lir Jet, who captured the Norfolk Stakes and is trained by Michael Bell, lines up in the Group 1 National Stakes.
The meeting goes ahead despite a partial lockdown being imposed in Co Kildare on Friday, due to coronavirus. The order does not affect elite sports in Ireland which are allowed to continue behind closed doors.