Racing: Spencer shows new maturity on The Kiddykid

Scrapheaps are not the place for 24-year-olds and Jamie Spencer further displayed here yesterday that he has found new life after his melancholy year as Ballydoyle stable jockey.

Scrapheaps are not the place for 24-year-olds and Jamie Spencer further displayed here yesterday that he has found new life after his melancholy year as Ballydoyle stable jockey.

Recently married and recently invigorated, the Irishman rode a double across the Knavesmire to take him further ahead in the jockeys' championship. The freelance now has only Frankie Dettori ahead of him in title betting.

It is a blossoming position for Spencer after a barren season based in Co Tipperary. It was his misfortune that perhaps the worst crop of horses at Ballydoyle of recent times were presented as his conveyances. They made errors, largely the worst sin of being slow, while Spencer threw in a few of his own.

Yet, as he first dictated the dance on Zero Tolerance in the opener and then forced home The Kiddykid in the Duke of York Stakes yesterday, Spencer exhibited the breadth of skills which he first started delivering when Tarascon carried a 17-year-old rider to success in the Irish 1,000 Guineas.

Spencer believes he is a better rider for his travails, maybe even a better man. "When you're younger you don't take criticism as well," he said. "I take it on the chin now. I've seen a lot of highs and lows in the short time I've been in racing. I feel I'm a stronger person now and I'd like to think I'm a better rider for it all.

"I've been getting plenty of support and so many people have been so good. I thought it would be a good deal harder than it has been to get back on the winners' board. We'll just have to keep kicking.

"I'm happy as long as I'm riding winners. Even now if I come home after riding seven losers I feel the world is falling in on top of me again. I'd describe myself as very much an up-and-down person.

"But you can't lie down in life. I don't ever look for pity and I don't ever want it. I just want to keep improving and become as good as I can be. That will take me at least 10 years."

The Kiddykid's success was an immediate reward for his trainer, David Evans, who had taken four and a half hours to drive the box up from Ty Derlwyn Farm, near Abergavenny, on the edge of the mountains in South Wales. It was the trainer's first Group Two victory, to accompany his brace of Group Threes. "It's not easy getting Group winners when you've got a load of crap," Evans said, in what we must hope does not become his Gerald Ratner moment.

It was, yet again, an afternoon which suggested you are dragging an anchor trying to come from the back on the Knavesmire. Secret History led all the way in the Oaks trial, the Musidora Stakes, but she is not in at Epsom and more likely to return to these environs for the Ribblesdale Stakes at the Royal meeting.

There was a filly from the Ballydoyle here in Mona Lisa, an enigmatic figure in that she cost 1.25m guineas but runs rather slowly. "She's blowing a lot," Aidan O'Brien, her trainer, said in the unsaddling enclosure, which was probably a reference to Mona Lisa's breathing pattern but was equally applicable to the investment which has been made in her.

At least O'Brien appeared a much more relaxed man than the haunted character we witnessed at York's August meeting. After One Cool Cat had failed, yet again, the trainer looked as though he would happily have taken the pearl-handled revolver.

Now though, for him and Spencer, happy days are here again. Two Guineas are already in the bag and Derby horses seem to be emerging from behind every curtain. O'Brien was able to report that Gypsy King, his long-time personal Blue Riband favourite, was in perfect form despite some wild trading on the betting exchanges on Tuesday. The Chester winner was laid at 129-1 at one point, a price which you would only offer if the horse was dead on the floor in front of you. "He's fine," O'Brien reported. "As far as I know, he couldn't be better."

The trainer pulls another challenger from his quiver in this afternoon's Dante Stakes, which promises to be the most informative of the Derby trials.

Ballydoyle's Albert Hall goes into battle with, among others, the recently well backed Proclamation and the ante-post Epsom favourite, Motivator.

HYperion's selections for today's other meetings:

Carlisle: 6.00 Bold Tiger 6.30 Viewforth 7.00 Thornaby Green 7.30 Fly To Dubai 8.00 Blue Patrick 8.30 Polish Power

Ludlow: 5.40 Royal Prodigy 6.10 Curtins Hill 6.40 Absolut Power 7.10 Montifault 7.40 My Pal Val 8.10 Rift Valley 8.40 Tessanoora

Richard Edmondson

Nap: Dickie Deadeye (Yorn 4.45)

NB: Quito (York 3.00)

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