Royal Ascot 2020 will live long in the memory for everybody associated with Hambleton Lodge. With a small team heading down to the Royal meeting, Kevin looked to have a select but strong bunch of runners. It was the final day that provided the yard with not one but two winners as Kevin Stott delivered not only his first and second Royal Ascot winners but also his first winner at the highest level.
Kevin Stott will one day be able to tell his children the story of how he gained his first Group 1 success on racing’s biggest stage. In a driving finish he had Frankie Dettori and Ryan Moore, who between them have over 130 Royal Ascot winners and multiple Gr1 races, driving hard to try and outshine Stott. Underneath Kevin was a very classy and brave Hello Youmzain who dug deep to earn his second Group 1 victory, taking the 6f Diamond Jubilee.
Hello Youmzain really stamped his authority in the sprinting division last season with some high class performances. After lowering the colours of the star Calyx in the Gr 2 Sandy Lane at Haydock, Hello Youmzain took the step up to the highest echelon. On his first trip to the Royal meeting the colt finished third in the Commonwealth Cup, going down by just over a length when making a slightly tardy start. That first foray into Gr1 company made everyone take notice, so much so that his next start would see him go off favourite in the Haydock Sprint Cup. It would be the first time he would take on his elders and Hello Youmzain came of age with a dominating front running performance. Unfortunately his final start didn’t quite work out with Hello Youmzain running well in the Champion’s Sprint but just doing a little too much early on.
Kevin had always bene of the opinion that Hello Youmzain could only get better with age as the strong colt would really mature and strengthen up with time. The winter break certainly proved that feeling to be true and he came back in the new year looking like the finished article. Under new ownership following his Haydock victory, Hello Youmzain had secured his future as a stallion with Haras d’Etreham and Cambridge Stud snapping up the son of Kodiac. Keen for the colt to build on his budding CV, 2020 was mapped out for Hello Youmzain to grab hold of the sprinting division and add to his Gr 1 success. With many of his peers being retired to stud, Hello Youmzain would enter 2020 as one of the most prominent sprinters and be the target for the up and coming 3yr olds.
Plans come quite easy with horses like Hello Youmzain as the Gr1 program would be his agenda for the year. Kevin couldn’t be happier with the colt and his work had been as good as ever. With the first major contest mapped out to be Royal Ascot, it was decided by connections that a prep run in the Duke Of York or Temple Stakes would be ideal. Target set Hello Youmzain was exactly where Kevin wanted him until unforeseen circumstances put a halt to racing for all. There was no choice but to head straight to the Diamond Jubilee and the anticipation would build for the Hello Youmzain’s return.
As the weeks rolled by Hello Youmzain continued to impress in his work and it was soon time for the big day. The Diamond Jubilee would attract 10 decelerations and it was a who’s who of the sprinting division. There was one new story that developed leading up to the race as the bargain buy Sceptical, who had flown through the ranks, entered the race as favourite. Hello Youmzain was seen as his biggest danger and the 4yr old would be reunited with Kevin Stott, who had enjoyed his biggest successes to date on board the colt with 2 Gr2 victories.
The week had been very intriguing with regards to the draw. Differing ground had seen a big draw bias change throughout the meeting and with the weather improving there were certainly question marks over whether the drying ground would have the same affect. Kevin thought nothing about it and went out to ride the horse with bags of confidence. Hello Youmzain has never been one for lacking pace but when the stalls opened he showed an electric reaction and exploded out taking over 1 1/2 lengths out of the field. Kevin was not going to do anything but allow his mount to find his rhythm. Hello Youmzain was well into stride and showing electric speed he took up front running duties. There was some differing of opinion as Sands Of Mali ploughed a lone furrow on the far side and a duo raced up the rail. Kevin led the main body of the field as Sceptical tucked in behind Hello Youmzain through the first furlong.
They flew through the first couple of furlongs and Hello Youmzain drifted over towards the stands side with Stott allowing his mount to do so. This now meant that all but one of the field raced under the stands rail with the jockeys following Stott’s move across. Hello Youmzain remained at the forefront despite the shift across and moving towards the halfway point he had a slender lead in the Gr1 contest. Ascot is a stiff track and nobody was going to commit too early as the majority of the field still travelled strongly. Hello Youmzain was free wheeling and Stott was showing his confidence, aiming to get his fractions just right from the front. There was to be no hiding place and whoever was to come out on top would need to earn their victory.
Racing between the 3f and 2f marker all of the 10 runners looked to be in with a chance as nothing had yet laid down their challenge. Hello Youmzain continued to show the way but his pace started to pressure those further back in the field. Favourite Sceptical moved through on the outer and along the rail Khaadem travelled powerfully under Jim Crowley. Kevin could see his rivals in his peripheral vision and could feel the lead narrowing coming down to the 2f. Getting lower in the saddle, Stott began to wind Hello Youmzain up asking the powerful colt to shift up through the gears. Hello Youmzain began to lengthen and still held the lead moving into the final 1/4 mile but hadn’t shrugged off his rivals who were going just as well and responding like Youmzain.
For the first time in the race there was a break in the field as Hello Youmzain, Sceptical and Khaadem edged away from the rest. It was 1 1/2f from home and only a small advantage but the trio were head to head as Hello Youmzain saw his lead almost gone. With his rivals moving up from both sides, Hello Youmzain was in real danger of losing his lead. Khaadem had moved through menacingly but it was the favourite Sceptical who looked like the biggest danger. Hello Youmzain was responding to Kevin and seemed to be holding off the challenge of Khaadem but he was looking more and more susceptible to the favourite. The rest were beginning to toil in the wake of the leading trio apart from last years runner up, Dream Of Dreams. As they were about to hit the 1f marker the lead was snatched away from Hello Youmzain as Sceptical now stuck his nose to the front. Dream Of Dreams was now beginning to pick up as Hello Youmzain now split that pair alongside Khaadem.
It would have been very easy to now dismiss Hello Youmzain. He had led throughout but now headed he would only be fighting out for place honours. Well Hello Youmzain and Kevin Stott were having none of that and continued to battle away in the centre of the leading trio. The favourite had gone a neck up and was not stopping now holding the lead. Hello Youmzain was not for lying down and as Khaadem just couldn’t match the other two, along the rail, the colt had his eyes set on the fav. Kevin was driving hard in the saddle, smelling the scent of a Gr1 win but knowing that he was set for an exhausting battle. Hello Youmzain began to find more and the neck margin began to whittle down but it was agonisingly small gains. Sceptical only had 100yards to hold on and had over a head lead. Dream Of Dreams was now starting to hit top gear and switched around the leaders to throw down a late challenge. Whilst the leading pair were battling it out, the chestnut was looking to swoop fast and late. Stott knew he had to grab the moment and buoyed by the narrowing lead he dug deep, asking his mount to do the same. Hello Youmzain didn’t need to be asked twice and bravely fought over every blade of grass. It was a titanic tussle but with 50 yards to run Hello Youmzain had managed to get his nose level with the lead. Suddenly the pendulum had swung into the favour of Hello Youmzain and he was making sure the advantage would stay with him. Sceptical couldn’t respond to the second wave but Ryan Moore was getting a great tune from Dream Of Dreams who was flashing home, out of the eyesight of Stott. This was Hello Youmzain and Stott’s day in the spotlight, they were not to be denied, they were not giving this race to anybody. The final strides must have felt like a marathon for the young Dane but he had got it spot on as Hello Youmzain flashed past the post with a head lead.
The tears flowed from Kevin as soon as he had managed to pull up, realising that he had secured the dream and joined the elite group of Group 1 winning jockeys. Not only that but it had been on Racing’s biggest stage, Royal Ascot. Kevin had not only beaten two of the greatest jockeys of all time in a driving finish but he had ridden his first Gr1 winner with a world class ride. Hello Youmzain matched his jockey’s class and really proved he is a very, very smart sprinter. Electric from the gates, the pace set was strong and then Hello Youmzain managed to dig deep and come again to earn the victory. Any Gr1 win is special but this one must also go down as a great training performance. Hello Youmzain managed to win on his first run of the season, giving away race fitness to the favourite and really doing it the hard way. Now the finished article there is no doubt that Hello Youmzain has put his name right at the top of the 6f division and will certainly be the main target for the rest to aim at. It is a great victory for both Nicolas De Chambure, of Haras d’Etreham, and Brendan and Jo Lindsay, of Cambridge Stud. Having purchased the colt following his Haydock Sprint win, both partied were keen to continue Hello Youmzain’s racing career as a 4yr old before his future in the stallion ranks. There has never been any pressure but everybody knows the importance of further Gr1 success and to deliver at the first chance is fantastic. It was an amazing day for all involved and is just the start of the year for Hello Youmzain. He’s a dual Gr1 winner and will look to add to that tally, with the July Cup firmly in his sights next.
So how do you celebrate your first Gr1 and Royal Ascot winner?? Well it felt that good that you just go out and do it again. Coming into the parade ring with his feet barely touching the ground, Kevin went out and doubled his Royal Ascot tally within the space of 40 minutes. Hey Jonesy finally gained the big one that he had promised for so long when he took the 2020 6f Wokingham Handicap.
Hey Jonesy shot into many notebooks as a 2yr old, winning a York Novice before an unlucky sales race performance (3rd against a big draw bias) and then a fourth place in the Gr 1 Middle Park. That fine juvenile season was followed up in the next year, two 2nd places in listed company and a very close 5th in the Gr1 Commonwealth Cup. So he hadn’t won but the form was high class so it seemed only a matter of time before that second win would come and surely it would be a big one.
2019 started with a runner up finish to Dream Of Dreams, who would go on to be Gr1 runner up on two occasions. So that was it, Hey Jonesy’s 4yo season would be the one where he could really shine. Unfortunately that just never happened and whilst there was some good efforts there were also some worrying poor runs. The poor runs were the worry as Hey Jonesy had always proven to be very consistent and genuine. His home work had also been very good throughout the season so there must have been something under the bonnet that was preventing him show his true colours. Following two underwhelming runs at Ayr and York, Hey Jonesy was given his winter break, hopefully to come back with a new lease of life.
Hey Jonesy looked fantastic throughout his pre season work and was surely back on track. Looking good, working good, it was obvious that Hey Jonesy was back. That was until his return to action. The Royal meeting was always going to be the starting point for the 5yr old and Kevin opted to go for the 7f Buckingham Palace Handicap on day one. Hopes were high but almost immediately dashed as Hey Jonesy just never got involved. He looked for the first time that he was really interested, something that could never be aimed at him. Questions upon questions swirled following that performance. Once Kevin had seen that the gelding came out of the run 100% sound, had eaten up and showed no ill effects, he made his mind up what would come next. Hey Jonesy would be going back down to Berkshire, dropping back in trip and fitted with blinkers to make amends in the Wokingham.
The 22 runner calvary charge is one of the most competitive races of the season but with Kevin flying high he went out on Hey Jonesy with bags of confidence. There had been a draw bias throughout the week but with the size of the field Kevin was set to keep things as simple as possible. Drawn in stall 10, Hey Jonesy was away well enough but Kevin ensured he was going to put his best foot forward and rousted Jonesy along. Realising that his partner wanted positivity, Hey Jonesy shot to the fore to lead the far side group. There was a 60/40 split in the field but the larger near side group did not want to go on like the far side. Hey Jonesy was blazing a trail and led narrowly on his side but was a little further clear of the other group. Kevin was riding full of confidence and this was clear with his positive mind set on Hey Jonesy.
It was a different Hey Jonesy to the one that turned up just four days earlier. This time around he was eager and blitzing through the first half of the race. Whether the blinkers were doing the trick or not, something had given him a spark but now there was just a small question whether it had worked too well. Enthusiastically Hey Jonesy was flying along but there was still a way to go on a stiff 6f track. Kevin was not going to disappoint his mount and let him bowl. His closest pursuer was stable mate, and fav, Bielsa and it was his reaction at the halfway point that really showed how well Hey Jonesy was going. The far side group held the advantage but as they moved inside the final 3f, one by one they began to work harder trying to close the deficit. Hey Jonesy was loving life at the front and edged a little further clear, travelling like a dream for Stott.
Kevin had a difficult decision to make as they race on down to the 2f marker. In and around him his rivals were beginning to struggle and it looked as though he would have those covered. The near side group were behind and had not forced the issue so were still a couple of lengths down. Stott felt Hey Jonesy travelling well but wanted to keep his morale high and decided that he had to go, knowing full well he would like to hold on for a little bit longer. It is a fine balance but Stott was putting all his faith in his mount. Having wound his mount up Kevin got lower in the saddle and kicked Hey Jonesy in the belly to go and win his race. Hey Jonesy continued his enthusiastic run and kicked on. Suddenly Hey Jonesy opened up a 1 1/2 length advantage with a far bigger advantage to the near side group. As the runners began to lay down their challenges they split and began to fan out across the track, all aiming for blinkered Hey Jonesy.
Hey Jonesy had made almost every yard of the running as he took the field into the final furlong. The aggressive, front running style was brave but it was sure to be a tough final 200 yards with the field tank emptying all the time. He had really stretched the field and was still 1 1/2 lengths clear with Stott now in full drive. The smell of double drove him on and it was as if Hey Jonesy could feel it too, digging in for his rider. On his side Hey Jonesy just kept pulling further clear of his rivals but a glance to the stands side would show a few horses coming from out of the pack. It looked pretty clear that Hey Jonesy had got those around him beat but the challenge was coming from the opposite side of the track. He was still going forward but the lead was being eaten into with Spanish City, Summerghand and Gulliver all looking to snatch the win away. There was 100 yards to run and it was the first time that Hey Jonesy just started to look venerable. Out in front for so long the exertions was just beginning to show and now he had to really dig deep. It was Summerghand who would come through and prove to be the main danger as he was finish with a real flourish. Kevin was asking everything of Hey Jonesy and the gelding was answering with every stride he took. It was going to be close as Summerghand was reeling Jonesy in at a rapid rate. In the dying strides it was heart in the mouth stuff with the pair split across the track but seemingly millimetres in it. They flashed past the post together and nobody was brave enough to call it straight away. With today’s technology the photo finishes don’t take very long, so when they do you know it is close. Kevin had to keep checking his number cloth in anticipation for the announcement and when the number 15 was closed the relief and exhilaration was clear for all to see.
What a 40 minutes for the two Kevin’s!!! After the breathtaking Gr1, it was another nervous yet wonderful double with Hey Jonesy. All credit to the jockey and the horse. For Hey Jonesy to come back following a disappointing showing on Tuesday takes a lot. He came home fine following that run and Kevin has had all the faith in the world with Hey Jonesy. It has been a long time coming but finally he has gained that second win and what a way to do it. Owners Jeniffer and Kenny Pallister have been in racing for many years whilst Son John caught the bug and took the plunge a few years ago. They have stuck by the horse and placed their belief in Kevin who has been saying for so long that the “big win” was coming. It is hard too keep hearing that and then seeing some disappointing results so they deserve this for the patience shown. It is the first time they have tasted Royal Ascot success and it is a great feeling to be able to deliver that win.
What a day for Kevin Stott. He has been with the yard since his apprenticeship and despite a small stint elsewhere he has been based in North Yorkshire. From day one he looked a talent and with his growing maturity and experience in the saddle he has certainly placed himself among the brightest stars of the future. Both rides showed his excellence in the saddle and on such a big stage he took it in his stride and shone, giving both horses supremely confident rides. These winners are just the start of a burgeoning career and Stott’s star will only shine brighter in the future.