Thursday June 16 2022, 12.01am, The Times
Rule number one in race-riding: if the pace is slow don’t let a good horse loose on the lead. State Of Rest is a good horse. He has already travelled from Tipperary to win top races in both France and Australia. Yet at Ascot yesterday he was allowed to doddle round in front and have plenty of firepower to repel pursuers. Good work at 5-1.
This Prince Of Wales’s Stakes was a reminder that a small field need not mean a dull race. State Of Rest’s four rivals included Shahryar, one of the best horses in Japan, Grand Glory, the best mare in France, Lord North, who won this in 2020, and the fast- improving Bay Bridge, whose last win was so impressive that bookmakers had him odds-on favourite at the off.
That price would only have shortened as the gates opened and Frankie Dettori was unable to get Lord North’s blindfold off to leave the former winner staggering out like a drunk into daylight. He had closed up before the turn but had nothing to offer when Shane Crosse let the leader rumble.
Up to then the 22-year-old Irishman had dictated such a steady gallop that the winning time on fast ground was a full three seconds over the standard. It took a degree of nerve on his part and a bit of disrespect from the normally excellent Cristian Demuro on Shahryar, who has scored over further than this mile-and-a-quarter trip and who was never likely to win a sprint for home.
Behind him, Ryan Moore on Bay Bridge seemed to be targeting the Japanese horse rather than the leader and although he was at work by the turn the deed was done. Crosse still had plenty of horse beneath him as they swung into the straight and, hard though Bay Bridge battled, he was clearly held. On this running State Of Rest is probably the best of them anyway. We should never have missed the 5-1
Crosse rides with vigour as well as judgment but his hollowed-out cheekbones show the dedication needed to keep his tall frame below 9st. “We thought they might not go fast,” he said, “so from stall one we were best to jump off in front and go along steady. He’s a top, top horse, nothing phases him, and at four he is only getting better.”
This is the first time British racegoers have seen Crosse in big-race excellence, although it should have been the second. For in September 2019 he was booked to ride St Leger winner Galileo Chrome only to test positive for Covid the day before. Crosse owed that ride, as the one on State Of Rest, to his long-term mentor Joseph O’Brien, who at only 29 has become a true phenomenon of our racing times
In his seven years as a record- breaking champion jockey, O’Brien won six Irish classics and four English, including two Derbys — the 2012 running, with Camelot trained by his father, Aidan, was a unique achievement for the family.
But for success and originality Joseph’s next seven years as a trainer have been even more sensational. In 2018 he won the Irish Derby and a year earlier had stunned the training world by winning the Melbourne Cup with Rekindling, something he repeated with Twilight Payment before continuing his Antipodean adventures with State Of Rest last year.
The tall, shy, emaciated youth sometimes faint-praised as “Aidan’s son” has grown into a relaxed, bespectacled figure with no need for boasting.
No one has ever combined a set of riding and training honours to match these, especially not under the age of 30. And don’t forget that the last time his horses were here was when one of them won a big race over fences in February.
“It was a brilliant ride and he is a very tough horse,” O’Brien said about Crosse and State Of Rest, who last year had to have anaesthetic and a full body scan before leaving for Australia. Mercifully such precautions will not be required if venturing south this autumn, by which time top European prizes might also have been targeted.
So we closed a day which Dettori will want to forget. Asked beforehand whether he was feeling the pressure of riding both Stradivarius and the Queen’s horse Reach For The Moon today, he grinned ruefully and said “thanks for reminding me”.