Drugs, Show Jumping and Derby Trials as Covid Starts to Relent

Grimaud Arena

We are lucky in the UK, along with a few other countries in the world in that it appears that we are rather successfully dealing with this hideous pandemic which has blighted our sport for so long now. Shows are beginning to open up and crowds are shortly going to be allowed back into watch events. Boris Johnson has said that we will be allowed to hug again next week. Who knows, the week after we may all be allowed even to have sex again! No I jest as we must remember that there are many places in the world where Covid is still very prevalent and they are far from out of the woods as yet, including we understand, Japan, where in only a few short months the Olympic Games are due to be held?

In the News this week

In a week of mixed fortunes for international shows and events able to continue, both Burghley Horse Trials in September in the UK and The Dublin Horse Show in August (Ireland) have succumbed and will not take place in 2021. However, HOYS (The horse of the year show) in the UK, will be staged in October.

Sport horses

Steve Guerdat. Still Current World Number One and winner at Grimaud

The main international competition of the weekend was the 5 star FEI CSI held at Grimaud in France. Forty five took on the Gregory Bodo designed course with fourteen fences with seventeen jumping efforts required. This was a truly international field for the class with representatives from sixteen different nations from afar afield as Columbia in the S. America as well as a plethora of European countries. Steve Guerdat from Switzerland, and for a further month remained as the number one show jumper n the world rankings took the honours. He was riding the Selle Francais 13 year old gelding, Venard de Cerisy, and won with a double clear in 39.13 seconds. There were only 4 contenders getting a clear round in the first, thus to go through for the jump off.  Spain’s Edwardo Alverez Aznar riding Legend was second with France’s Penelope Leprevost taking third riding the Vancouver de Lanlore, another 13 year old Selle Francais, this time a stallion. The fourth place, and the only other clear round went to Brian Moggre of the United States. All the top four had a double clear round.

Canada’s Tokyo dreams have come to an abrupt end with a disqualification from the Pan American Games after one of the riders in their team at that event was found to have cocaine in her system. Apparently, Nicole Weaver took the drug accidentally when she thought it was a teabag. Although exonerated herself, Nicole’s misdemeanour has not meant that the Canada team at the Pan Am games has been reinstated which quite simply means that, as the team qualified for Tokyo at those games, their qualification is deemed void. Now there is no more time for a further attempt to qualify for Tokyo which means that there will only be one rider from Canada, riding as an individual, will be allowed.


The big racing news is that the Bob Baffert trained winner of The Kentucky Derby last weekend, Medinia Spirit, has been found to have had an illegal substance in his blood following the race. The drug, Betamethsane, which is allowed in a horses’ blood up to ten picograms, had over double that with twenty one. Baffert has been banned from entering any horses in races at Churchill Downs in Kentucky for the time being. It is expected that the Medina Spirit team will appeal and demand a second test. If the appeal and second test show the same result, the horse will be disqualified and the winner will be declared as Mandaloun. Bob Baffert refutes all claims and said that he has never used the drug on Medina Spirit at any time while he has been in training with him.

Aiden O’Brian – has the current favourite for the Epsom Derby.

A new favourite for the Epsom Derby, to be held on June 1st has emerged in the form of the Aiden O’Brian trained Bolshoi Ballet, a colt by Galileo out of an Anabaa mare. The colt won the Derrinstown Derby Trial, a race not usually noted for being a good pointer to the classic winner, bit with a rather poor bunch of 3 year olds seen on the track this year, this time may well be an exception! Bolshoi Ballet is thus far the winner of two Group 3 races this year. He won the race with consummate ease by 5 lengths. Racing at York this week may provide further clues to the Derby form, particularly in the Dante on Thursday. A horse we really liked the look of ,won a low key race at Newmarket last week, Mohaafeth trained in Newmarket by William Haggas for Shadwell Estates, (formally the late Sheikh Hamdam), who won with equal ease, again by five lengths. By the great Frankel out of a Sea The Stars mare, pedigree should be no problem for the horse at Epsom. Two things we would consider, will he travel at Epsom, many horses don’t and did he really beat anything worthwhile? The same can also be said for the O’Brian horse!

The most valuable Group 1 on the weekend was held in Tokyo, The NHK Mile Cup, in which 18 runners took part. The winner, aptly named Schnell Meister,  is a German bred 3 year old colt by Kingman and is out of a Soldier Hollow mare. The colt is trained in Japan by Takahisa Tezhuka.  He won by 2 ½ lengths from Songline and was ridden by Frenchman Christophe Le Maire.

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