Feature Story



By Duane Fonseca

It is often said: success breeds success. Richard Kingscote has been living the truth in that maxim since he turned up the emphatic winner of the Epsom Derby aboard Desert Crown, trained by Sir Michael Stoute for UAE owner Saeed Suhail in June last year.

Kingscote put the highlight among British Classics to bed with tact and precision, a stormy sprinting finish to the wire taking him well clear of the field and affording him the luxury of easing his mount in the final stages. Despite taking his foot off the pedal Desert Crown finished with two and a half lengths to spare, the symbiosis between horse and rider evident as the pair crossed the line.

And while Desert Crown was packed up for the remainder of the year after suffering a minor setback in July, Kingscote did not have to wait long to add another Group One win to his now burgeoning repertoire. He went on to win the Champion Stakes with the Stoute-schooled Bay Bridge in October, his fourth ever career Group One victory.

“It’s been really great for me and I’ve enjoyed every moment of it,” Kingscote told Adiyat Racing Plus, as he cooled off following his victory aboard Ian Williams’ Enemy in the Dubai Racing Club Classic presented by Zabeel Feed on the opening night of the 2023 Dubai World Cup Carnival at Meydan.

“It was a big occasion and the horse stepped up to the mark. He’s a big, exciting horse and I was blessed to be able to ride him.” Kingscote continues to feel blessed a little over six months later and with new avenues opening up for him it is alright to say the world is now his oyster.

“My life has changed a lot. I think people’s belief in me has changed. You go into the paddock now to ride for people you’ve never met and they say, ‘We’ll leave it to you, you’ve ridden a Derby winner’,” the 36yo said. “People see you a little bit differently, so it’s good for my confidence. It’s been a big year.

There are a lot of nice horses I can hopefully get on so it opens doors. Success breeds success as they say.” The Derby and Champion Stakes were among 98 winners Kingscote rode in Britain during 2022, still not his highest haul.

That happened the year before when he won 128 times, his fifth three digit score. Born in a family with absolutely no connection to racing, Kingscote was out on his own and started riding ponies on the beach at Weston-Super-Mare, his hometown, during school holidays and on weekends.

Having made sure riding was what he intended doing, he joined the British Riding School ranks and later landed an apprenticeship riding for dual Derby winning trainer Roger Charlton, who he credits for persevering with him and helping him find riding opportunities with other trainers.

In 2008, Kingscote was offered a job as stable jockey by Tom Dascombe and the relationship has continued, forged as a strong friendship between the pair. Dascombe would supply Kingscote with his first Group One success, Brown Panther in the 2014 Irish St Leger, the horse then famously winning the Group 2 Dubai Gold Cup on the Dubai World Cup card in 2015.

For his second top-tier triumph, Kingscote guided Karl Burke’s Havana Grey home first in the Derrinstown Stud Flying Five Stakes on The Curragh. His British tally today stands at 1,411, with numerous Stakes level wins, but Kingscote knows the significance of his most prized winner and the doors it has opened for him.

He started with a fine victory in Dubai aboard Enemy, and could have easily enjoyed two that night had Felix Natalis not been headed just before the line in the Jumeirah Classic Trial, but that’s life. And as soon as the night concluded, such things were forgotten, with Kingscote turning his attention Stateside where he seems to have made a lot of friends.

He has taken up a minor stint in Florida and will ride here briefly, hoping to make it to Dubai from time to time whenever carnival action comes calling with a firm eye on securing as much action as is possible for the big night on 25 March. “It’s a very good time of things,” Kingscote said. “We’ve started the year as we left off and it’s hopefully going to be an exciting year.

“Winning the Derby has been really great for me and I’ve enjoyed every moment of it. It was a big occasion and the horse stepped up to the mark. “I think it’s certainly opened up some doors. I have a trip to America next week and I had a busy card in Dubai. Since June I’ve been very busy at home and there’s been no negatives about it.

“Right now I’m looking to go to the States. I’ve been there before, for the Breeders’ Cup, but never for a stint. I was asked if I would be interested and just thought I’d give it a go.” Kingscote added: “The Derby is the obvious highlight of my career.

Before that I’ve had big winners. I’ve had a winner here on Dubai World Cup night, which was actually my last winner here at Meydan so it’s been a while, but the Derby is huge and it’s most certainly going to take a lot to top that. 

“I don’t know the horse’s (Desert Crown) plans for 2023, but Group Ones is where I want to be and I think it’s an achievable goal that next year hopefully I can win some more. “I’ve been lucky I’ve been able to come out here a few times.

I really enjoy coming to Dubai. When we won the Stayers’ race here a few years ago it was a great evening and it was the only time I’ve ever ridden on Dubai World Cup night. That turned out to be a fabulous night. Hopefully, I can come back and have another one.” The date has been set. It’s now for Kingscote to turn up in style.