Born on October 22, 1945 on the Caribbean island of Barbados, Sir Michael Stoute has been a leading light in British horse racing for decades. In fact, he was Champion Trainer ten times between 1981 and 2009, yet was awarded a knighthood, in 1998, for services to tourism in his native country. Having narrowly lost out, to Julian Wilson, as the new BBC Television racing correspondent in 1965, Stoute subsequently became assistant trainer to the late Hubert Patrick ‘Pat’ Rohan in Norton, County Durham, before taking out a training licence in his own right in 1972.
All told, Stoute has won the Derby five times, most notably with Shergar in 1981 and Workforce in 2010. The fate of Shergar, kidnapped from the Ballymany Stud in County Kildare, Ireland two years later is an abiding mystery, but his ten-length winning margin remains the widest in the history of the Epsom Classic. Workforce won the Derby by just seven lengths but, in so doing, beat the previous track record for the mile-and-a-half at Epsom, set by Lammtarra 25 years earlier, by nearly a second.
Stoute is also the most successful trainer in the history of Royal Ascot, have beaten the previous record of 75 winners, set by the late Sir Henry Cecil, when Poet’s Word won the Prince of Wales’s Stakes in 2018. Stoute has since saddled four more winners at the Royal Meeting, most recently Crystal Ocean, also in the Prince of Wales’s Stakes, in 2019, to extend his career total to 80 winners.
The late Sir Henry Cecil, who died of cancer on June 11, 2013, at the age of 70, is best known as the trainer of Frankel, the highest rated horse in the history of Timeform and World Thoughbred Rankings, who retired, unbeaten in 14 races, in October, 2012. However, while Cecil, who was kinghted for services to horse racing in 2011, may have described Frankel as ‘the best horse I’ve ever seen’, he was arguably one of the greatest trainers in history.
Unfortunately his career was overshadowed by controversy but, in his heyday, between the late Seventies and early Nineties, Cecil was Champion Trainer ten times. Overall, he saddled 25 British Classic winners and was particularly adept with fillies, winning the Oaks eight times, including with Fillies’ Triple Crown heroine Oh So Sharp in 1985, and the 1,000 Guineas six times. He also won the Derby four times, including with British Horse of the Year, Reference Point, in 1987, the St. Leger four times and the 2,000 Guineas three times. Until June, 2018, when Poet’s Word, trained by Sir Michael Stoute, won the St. James’s Palace Stakes, Cecil also held the record for the most winners at Royal Ascot, having saddled 75 in his long, illustrious career.
Bred and owned by Juddmonte Farms, under the auspices of Khalid Abdullah, and trained by the late Sir Henry Cecil, Frankel won five times at Ascot in all, but just two of those victories came at Royal Ascot. Indeed, on the first occasion, as a three-year-old, on June 14, 2011, Frankel came as close to defeat as he did in his entire 14-race career. Fresh from an impressive 6-length win in the 2,000 Guineas at Newmarket, the Galileo colt was sent off at 30/100 to win the St. James’s Palace Stakes at the Royal Meeting. However, having taken a 6-length lead with a quarter of a mile to run, Frankel was quickly coming back to his rivals inside the final half a furlong and had to be ridden out by jockey Tom Queally to beat 20/1 chance Zoffany, trained by Aidan O’Brien and ridden by Ryan Moore, by three-quarters of a length.
The following season, as a four-year-old, Frankel contested the opening Queen Anne Stakes at Royal Ascot, for which he started a hugley prohibitive 1/10. Nevertheless, his cramped odds proved entirely justified as he soon quickened clear, despite drifting slightly right in the closing stages, for an extremely impressive 11-length win over old rival Excelebration; in so doing, Frankel achieved the highest rating ever achieved by a Flat horse in the history of Timeform.