James Doyle put the thought of his impending suspension to the back of his mind as he guided Ballet Concerto to victory in the John Smith’s Cup at York.
His confidence high after taking the previous Listed race on Rare Rhythm, Doyle again showed his prowess in the saddle as he won one of the toughest handicaps in the calendar.
It was a messy contest in the early stages, with several horses squeezed for room due to the lack of pace, but once the tempo increased the best came to the fore and UAE Prince was the first to stake a claim in the straight.
Doyle had Ballet Concerto (8-1) perfectly placed to make his bid and Sir Michael Stoute’s four-year-old, tackling a mile and a quarter for only the second time, did not shirk the task.
He stuck on gamely to beat Big Country by three-quarters of a length, with Mistiroc a neck away in third and UAE Prince a nose back in fourth.
Doyle, who was this week handed a 15-day ban for misuse of the whip under the totting-up procedure, five days of which are deferred, said: “He won it well. He’s a horse I know a little bit, as I won a handicap on him at Yarmouth last year.
“He’s got a lot of talent. He’s been a bit unlucky on his last few runs and hasn’t quite had the rub of the green at Epsom and then at Ascot. It’s nice to show what he can do there and stepping up in trip has definitely helped him.
“We didn’t go that quick. He travelled supremely well through the race and put it to bed
“It’s always going to be rough with that many runners. There was a little bit of scrimmaging and I had to fight my corner a bit early on.”
He added: “I didn’t have anything at Newmarket and got some nice rides here. To win the big race here makes me very happy, especially as it was for Sir Michael Stoute, whom I rode for previously when I was with Prince Khalid Abdullah.
“I haven’t ridden for him much since we parted company, but hopefully I’ll get a few more after today.”
On his suspension, Doyle said: “Obviously the whip ban is a bit of a sting in the tail, but it could have been a lot worse. We’re back for Goodwood, which is a big help.”
Mick Appleby, trainer of Big Country, said: “He’s run a blinder. The winner has probably got first run on us. We’d have been happier if they’d have come down the middle of the track.
“He’s a bit unlucky, but the winner is a decent horse. We’ll have to come back and win it next year.”
John Quinn, trainer of Mistiroc, said: “I’m delighted with him. He was in a great position through the race and got over from stall 16.
“He was 50-1. I couldn’t understand why. He was beaten five lengths at Royal Ascot by the horse that won the Listed race here earlier .”