Drowne buoyant again after wave of Ascot success - Racing - Sport - The Independent

Drowne buoyant again after wave of Ascot success

Only racing would castigate a man as too reliable; only racing, equally, would redeem him in such capricious fashion. Steve Drowne went to Royal Ascot last week still smarting after being replaced on Clowance in the Oaks, less than a fortnight previously. And the horse most likely to restore his morale and standing, Sakhee's Secret, proceeded to finish 17th of 17 in the last Group One of the week, the Golden Jubilee Stakes on Saturday. In the meantime, however, Drowne had ridden three winners, a feat surpassed only by Johnny Murtagh. They started at 100-1, 28-1 and 12-1 respectively; only one of Murtagh's winners, in contrast, was bigger than 7-4.

At 36, Drowne has been around long enough to be reconciled to the chicken-and-egg impasse. The best rides tend to go to jockeys already associated with the best horses. True, it did not prove such a hardship to see Frankie Dettori ride Clowance at Epsom, where they were beaten nearly 10 lengths – not, certainly, compared with the bitter day, five years previously, when he was "jocked off" Zafeen before he won the St James's Palace Stakes.

"But by the end of that week I'd won the Albany and the Windsor Castle Stakes," Drowne said yesterday. "That's what racing is like. Something like that, I wouldn't say you ever get used to it. It still guts you. But you do learn how to deal with it better.

"Everyone has been saying: 'Well done at Ascot, that must make up for Clowance.' But that was just a minor irritation, really. If she had won, yes, it would still be an open wound. In hindsight, it would make more sense to me if people were to say those three winners made up for Sakhee's Secret. Because I don't think I've ever had so much faith in a horse. That did shake me, the way he ran."

The colt's trainer, Hughie Morrison, attributes the performance to rain on watered ground, describing the turf away from the stands rail as "a skating rink". Certainly Drowne soon knew the game was up, and did not give Sakhee's Secret a hard race. "Even after a couple of furlongs I could tell that it was not going to be his day," he said. "It was loose on top, and I imagine the fact that he lost a shoe compounded the problem.

"But I haven't lost faith in him. In a way, it would have been worse if he had finished fifth, because you might be left wondering if that was as good as he was. But I still think he's as good as I've sat on."

Assuming conditions are suitably fast, Sakhee's Secret will defend the Darley July Cup at Newmarket. His task has been simplified, moreover, by news yesterday that the crack Australian sprinter Takeover Target has a tendon problem and will be heading home to recuperate.

In the meantime Drowne has ample succour in his other Ascot memories. "At the start of the week Sakhee's Secret was the only one I thought had a big chance," he admitted. "And just to have one winner would have been fantastic. So for him to finish stone last could only be an anti-climax. But it shows that you never know with racing. I was just hoping that Flashmans Papers would run a nice race, and then he wins at 100-1. But he proved it was no fluke in the Norfolk – he just flattened out there, maybe because of his effort two days earlier, but still finished fourth."

Drowne's other winners were shared with his two chief patrons: Supaseus for Morrison, and Fifteen Love for Roger Charlton. "We had been beginning to wonder if Fifteen Love was a bit of a monkey," he said. "But it turns out that fast ground is very important to him. He's such a good mover, and after missing the kick he did well to get up and beat those on the other side.

"Supaseus managed to get things his own way, and enjoyed himself in front. Once they left us alone to the three pole, I knew they would struggle to get to us, because he'd be strong up the hill."

Note that Supaseus managed "to get his own way" – not his rider. Other jockeys might have bragged about controlling the pace, but that is Drowne for you. A family man now, with twin baby daughters, he may not have particular flair, but suspects that riders with more flair make more mistakes. A reliable rider, by definition, will be the same in the Oaks as a Brighton seller. "Exactly," he said. "Look, it's the owner's horse, the owner's money. It's up to him. In a way it's easier for me if I know I haven't done anything wrong and still lose the ride, than if I had messed things up. I'd like to think that's the way people will think of me – as someone dependable on the big day."

Chris McGrath

Nap: Packers Hill

(Carlisle 3.00)

NB: Sinbad The Sailor

(Salisbury 5.20)

Life and Style
tech
News
Paper trail: the wedding photograph found in the rubble after 9/11 – it took Elizabeth Keefe 13 years to find the people in it
newsWho are the people in this photo? It took Elizabeth Stringer Keefe 13 years to find out
Arts and Entertainment
Evil eye: Douglas Adams in 'mad genius' pose
booksNew biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Arts and Entertainment
Robin Thicke's video for 'Blurred Lines' has been criticised for condoning rape
music
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
FootballFull debuts don't come much more stylish than those on show here
News
i100
Life and Style
Kim Kardashian drawn backlash over her sexy swimsuit selfie, called 'disgusting' and 'nasty'
fashionCritics say magazine only pays attention to fashion trends among rich, white women
Arts and Entertainment
TVShows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Arts and Entertainment
Hit the roof: hot-tub cinema east London
architectureFrom pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
Travel
travel
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Project Manager (retail, upgrades, rollouts)

£40000 - £45000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Project...

Project Manager (upgrades, rollouts, migrations)

£350 - £425 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Project Manager - 3 mont...

IT Administrator - Graduate

£18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

Year 5/6 Teacher

£5 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Year 5/6 Teacher - FlintshireRa...

Day In a Page

Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam
'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

'She was a singer, a superstar, an addict, but to me, her mother, she is simply Amy'

Exclusive extract from Janis Winehouse's poignant new memoir
Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

Is this the role to win Cumberbatch an Oscar?

The Imitation Game, film review
England and Roy Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption in Basel

England and Hodgson take a joint step towards redemption

Welbeck double puts England on the road to Euro 2016
Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Relatives fight over Vivian Maier’s rare photos

Pictures removed from public view as courts decide ownership
‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

‘Fashion has to be fun. It’s a big business, not a cure for cancer’

Donatella Versace at New York Fashion Week