Sensational Appleby / Buick and Japan Makes History at Del Mar

There are many so called ‘Racing Festivals’ around the world every year featuring the top races on  offer to be run in each country, and the final major racing festival – The Breeders Cup – was held over the weekend in Del Mar in California where history was made for Japan and Charlie Appleby had a sensational meeting. In France, showjumping’s Simon Delestre showed how to win a world cup qualifier.

Del Mar racetrack – known as ‘The Turf and Surf Racetrack’

The Breeders Cup race meeting is run over two days, the first comprising four Group 1 races for juveniles, – races for 2 year old colts and fillies, both on the dirt and the turf. The second day kicked off with the turf mile for 2 year old colts only. This was the first of ten Group 1 races for the day. The rest of the nine Group 1 contests were for colts, geldings and fillies, all aged 3 years or older – culminating in the Breeders Cup Classic raced on dirt and sponsored by Longines worth £2.275 million to the winner.

The two races of a mile each for 2 year olds on the turf were the two dramatic ones, particularly the Breeders Cup Juvenile Turf for Colts and Geldings in which 13 runners faced the starter. Charlie Appleby trained the first and second favourites for Godolphin, Modern Games and Albahr, both by Dubawi. Hugo Palmer, again from the UK, had another Dubawi in this contest with Dubawi Legend, another fancied runner. There were major problems at the start while loading for the race when Albahr took exception over the proceedings and turned himself inside out in the stalls, giving Frankie Dettori a nasty time out of which he was lucky to escape without serious injury.

William Buick rode three sensational races to win

The European trainers were out in force for this race with five of the 14 declared runners from the UK and Ireland. Albahr, who has been awkward at the stalls before, was loaded without the jockey who got back on board once the horse was installed. Just as the last couple were loading, Albahr sat down after rearing in the stalls and managed to end up on his back before managing to turn himself round to face the wrong way. Frankie was left walking away with just the bridle. One of the stalls hander’s was injured during the fracas. Albahr was withdrawn and all the other horses had to be unloaded and then checked before the 13 were reloaded. In another twist, the other Charlie Appleby runner Modern Games was announced as being withdrawn, but then after a lengthy delay, another announcement was made stating that Modern Games would run after all, but would take no further part in the betting, so all in all a complete fiasco! Finally, the race got underway and the American horse Portfolio Company trained by Chad Brown took them along until the final short straight when William Buick riding Modern Games cruised past on the outside to take an extraordinary win.

Christophe Clement – French trainer based in USA has first deserved Breeders Cup win

In the Breeders Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf race, again over 1 mile and with 14 declared runners, there was no pre-race dramatics. Coming from the back, in fact in last place was Piazza Bianca – and she managed to weave her way through the whole field to win quite comfortably by ½ length. She is trained in the US by Frenchman Christophe Clement, once an assistant trainer to Luca Cumani in Newmarket. This was the first Breeders Cup win for the trainer, who many considered was the best trainer at the meeting, who so far had never had a Cup winner. Piazza Bianca was ridden by Jose Ortiz. The two dirt races were both taken by American horses. The colt’s race was won by Corniche, trained by Bob Baffert and ridden by 56 year old jockey Mike Smith and the fillies’ equivalent was won by Echo Zulu for trainer Steven Asmussen and jockey Joel Rosario.

They say that lightening never strikes twice – well in Del Mar it certainly did. The second day was the main race day of the two with 12 races on the card of which nine were Group or Grade 1s. The main interest for us were the races run on the turf as opposed to the dirt as these races had a much more international feel about them. The Fanduel Breeders Cup Mile on turf was where lightning struck twice. Like the Juvenile colts turf race yesterday, Charlie Appleby had the two favourites for the race with Space Blues and Master of the Seas. At the start, Master of the Seas reared up in the stalls and just as the last runner was loaded and just as the starter was going to let them go, after what must be said seemed an interminably long time, Master of the Seas reared once again, this time more seriously and was withdrawn as a result. Although the stalls incident was not as bad as the one on day one, once again, one of the Appleby hot shots was taken out of the race, leaving him with just Space Blues with William Buick. After unloading and reloading all the runners, the 13 runners were dispatched. The first six home were all in touch with the leader, Smooth Like Straight taking the field into the last furlong including Space Blues. Like yesterday,

Space Blues takes the race giving Appleby and Buick third win

William Buick rode a magnificent race to keep his mount out of trouble, leaving enough petrol in the tank to take the race by half a length. Smooth Like Straight was second, trained in the USA by Michael McCarthy and ridden by Umberto Rispoli and Ivar, a Brazilian bred horse was third. Aiden O’Brien’s Mother Earth – classic winner in Newmarket in May this year ran out of petrol and came nowhere as did the other Irish raider Real Appeal trained by Jessica Harrington.

Another race always on the international target list was the Maker Mark Breeders Cup Mares and Fillies race over 1 mile 3 furlongs, and this year was no exception. Six of the 12 runners were from outside the USA. There were no dramatics at the start of this contest, but history was made in that the Japanese runner, Loves Only You trained by Yoshito Yahagi near Tokyo and ridden by Yuga Kawada became the first Japanese horse ever to win a Breeders Cup Race in the years of Japanese interests trying to reach this Holy Grail.

Yoshito Yahagi trains first Japanese horse to win a Breeders Cup race ever

The mare tracked the leaders and was ridden strongly in the short straight to take the race by half and length from Chad Brown’s mares My Sister Not ridden by Jose Ortiz. War Like Goddess from the William Mott stable was third. Again Aidan O’Brien was out of luck with Love, who has had a long season and seemed to have gone off the boil. Last year’s winner Audarya trained in Newmarket by James Fanshawe was well beaten as were the other runners from the UK and Ireland.

Three races later, in the Longines Breeders Cup Distaff over 1 mile 1 furlong on the dirt, Japan struck again. As one commentator pointed out, you wait for years for a bus then three come all at once! This time, once again Yoshito Yahagi was triumphant with Marche Loraine, for the same owners. Oisin Murphy, the recently crowned UK champion jockey for the third time in succession was the pilot, who kept his mount fairly near the back until the race started in earnest when he gave the 5 year old mare a strong run on the outside, just holding onto the winner’s place by a short head. In fact he won on the nod from Dunbar Road who again spent most of the race nearer the back than front. The second is American trained by Chad Brown, who was by far the most successful USA trainer at the meeting, and on this occasion ridden by Jose Ortiz, who also had a successful meeting.

Favourite for the Turf race after being second in the Arc recently

With just two more races to go, the two with the biggest prize money, the international flavour continued with the Longines Breeders Turf Cup over 1 ½ miles. There were 14 runners. Aidan O’Brien, winning trainer of this race of several other occasions, again sent out a team to keep his record intact; Japan, Bolshoi Ballet and Broome. Dermot Weld had the favourite Tanarwa in the line-up as well as Charlie Appleby with two, Walton Street and Tibir. The first six were always in mid field throughout the race except William Buick kept Tibir, who ran keenly anyway towards the rear. Finally, in the short furlong, once again we saw William Buick’s sensational riding ability when he produced his mount to come and win the race by half a length. This was both Appleby and Buick’s third triumph of the two days. Maybe, not the most conventional of ways to win races, but the pair ended up being leading trainer and jockey for the whole meeting. The second home was Broome with Irad Ortiz Jr  on board giving Aiden O’Brien his best chance of the two days and Tenoa ridden by David Egan and trained by Roger Varian in the UK was third. Japan was fourth with the best of the home nationals coming fifth; the William Mott trained Channel Maker.

The final race on the dirt, was The Longines Breeders Cup Classic over 1 mile 2 furlongs with prize money of over 6 million dollars. This was an all American affair with no raiders from the international scene. There were just eight runners. Essential Quality was sent off favourite ridden by Luis Saez and trained by Brad Cox, but he could only manage to come third. Brad Cox did however take the race with his other runner, Knicks Go ridden by Joel Rosario who came out of the stalls like a bullet and was never beaten. The second home was Medina Spirit trained by Bob Baffert.

Brad Cox takes first and third in the Classic

Del Mar, a race course instigated by the likes of Bing Crosby in 1938 as the stars of the day wanted to have racing close to their homes on the California coast – hence the name of the ‘Surf and Turf’ course came into being. The Breeders Cup is always an exciting two days of top racing, and this year was certainly no exception, particularly for Godolphin, Charlie Appleby and jockey William Buick. Finally, Japan must be delighted to have at last broken their duck and make their own piece of history as they finally got a couple of winners on the board after years of trying. Now they really only have The Arc de Triomphe to win, which again they have being trying to win for decades!

Showjumping

The one World Cup showjumping competition of the week was held in Verona in Italy and had 40 riders from 17 different nations starting for the 5 star FEI CSI class. The course was set by Uliano Vezzani with a time allowed in the first round of 77 seconds to jump the 13 obstacle 16 jumping effort course. First in was veteran rider John Whitaker from GB riding Unick de Francport who set the pace by taking a comfortable clear. Ten other riders also got clears to go through to the jump off.

Simon Delestre takes this round of the World Cup

Jessica Sprinsteen riding Don Juan Van de Donkhoeve was the fastest in the jump off but sadly had a pole down. There were five who jumped clear in the second round and all were close in time. The winner was from France, Simon Delestre riding Hermes Ryan in 37.32 seconds. Germany provided the second, Kendra Claricia Brinkhop riding Kastelle Memo in 37.80 seconds with Denis Lynch from Ireland in third.

For the second month in succession, Peder Fredricson of Sweden was the world number one athlete for showjumping on 2970 points. Daniel Deusser from Germany is currently number two on 2795 points with fellow Swede Henri Von Eckermann in third with 2700 points jumping up from 8th in the previous month’s listings. Martin Fuchs (SWI) slipped from third to fourth with the others in the top ten staying much as they were.

In dressage, the world number one for the third month in succession is Jessica Von Bredow-Werndl from Germany with Cathrine Dufour from Denmark as number two and Charlotte Dujardin from Great Britain third place. The rankings remain unaltered from the previous month for the first ten athletes.

Images Courtesy Grunge.com, TB News.AU Godolphin, WestpointTB, Trainermag and Twitter

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