Last weekend was all about International racing, with quality action from the U.S. and France. This slight lull in top tier racing allows UK trainers, owners, and jockeys to make the final preparations before for the Royal meeting. The undoubted highlight and talking point over the weekend was Justify winning the Triple Crown by powering home to land the Belmont Stakes under Mike Smith.
A length and three-quarter victory over Gronkowski meant that Justify became just the 13th horse to complete this historic feat and incredibly he is the first horse to win the triple crown having not run as a two-year-old. In fact, Justify’s win in the Kentucky Derby was a mere 77 days after his debut.
This amazing feat has led to Justify being sold to Coolmore for a record-breaking $75 million dollars, which makes his owners investment of $500,000 a relative bargain, especially considering that he accumulated winnings of $2.94 million while winning the triple crown.
The record-breaking colt had jockey Mike Smith waxing lyrical after the race:
“He’s brilliant. He was so still in the gate I thought he might not break but he left so fast it was like he was going to go 440 yards!
“Bob has made a lot of my goals come true but today he made my dreams come true.”
The Breeders’ Cup Classic looks the long-term target now for Justify where a potential rematch with Kentucky Derby flop Mendelssohn looks a distinct possibility.
There was a good card at Auteuil on Saturday where Paul Townend recorded a 117/1 double on the Irish trained pair of Bapaume and Baie Des Iles.
Following a disappointing season, Bapaume proved his second place in the Grande Course De Haies D´auteuil was no flash in the pan when triumphing in the La Barka. The Rich Ricci owned gelding was a Grade One-winning four year old at the Punchestown festival and if he brings form like this into next season he will be well worth following.
It was a red-letter day for trainer Ross O’Sullivan and his recently retired wife Katie Walsh as their Baie De Iles landed the Grade 2 Des Drags Chase under the aforementioned Paul Townend. The mare had been the subject of a mini gamble in this year’s Grand National and ran well until weakening into 12th late on.
This win marked the mare’s first return to her home country having been bought to race in Ireland late in 2014 by owner Zorka Wentworth. On the back of this success, it’s highly likely that more French forays lie ahead for the daughter of Barastraight.
Unfortunately the most popular topic of discussion in England last week has been the weighing room “bust-up” between Jim Crowley and Raul Da Silva. It is alleged that Jim Crowley was the victim of an unprovoked attack by Raul Da Silva “with what felt like a piece of lead.”
The former champion jockey stated in the aftermath that:
“There was a minor disagreement over a race-riding incident with a number of jockeys not happy with Raul’s riding.
“After this I was the victim of an unprovoked attack from behind.”
The Brazilian rider was handed a 21-day ban by the stewards afterwards but has insisted his innocence following the incident saying “I didn’t have anything in my hand when I hit him.”
This isn’t the first and won’t be the last incident between jockeys, with the most famous being between Kieran Fallon and Stuart Webster at Beverly in 1994. After a mid-race incident, an incensed Fallon pulled Webster off his horse after they crossed the line.
These actions resulted in Fallon receiving a six-month ban for violent and improper conduct. So in relevant terms, if it transpires that De Silva is guilty of the accusations his punishment has been somewhat lenient.