World Sporthorses Slumber while Racing Continues
In the weekend just passed, we should have been able to celebrate two equine festivals. The first, which did happen behind closed doors was the Goodwood Festival and the second, abandoned some time ago was the Royal International Horse Show at Hickstead.
We have already written a considerable amount about the Goodwood Festival, and discussed the three Group 1 races at the festival on offer. However, two further days saw another 15 races. On Friday, there was the King George Stakes, named after George IV and is a Group 2 sprint race over the minimum distance of five furlongs. This is always a high quality affair and in our opinion should probably have Group 1 status. There were six runners including Battaash, a world class top sprinter, who went of odds on favourite. Battaash, like Stradivarius earlier in the week was hoping to make further racing history being the first horse ever to win four King George Stakes at the venue. Until the 3 furlong marker, Ornate led the field when Battaash soon went into the lead and was never going to be beaten. Jim Crowley rode the horse into history, not only winning the race four times but broke the course record in the running with 55.61 seconds on the clock. This was another win for owner Hamden Al Maktoum who has had a tremendous run with wins recently. Battaash is trained in Lambourn by Charlie Hills.
Around the rest of the world, Germany held it Oaks Classic at Dusseldorf where Miss Yoda, trained by UK’s John Gosden and ridden by Frankie Dettori raided the German pot. There were fifteen 3 year old fillies only sent to post to tackle the 1 mile 3 furlong track. In the 1 mile contest for 3 year old fillies and up, The Prix Rothschild Group 1 run at Deauville in France, Watch Me beat her five other rivals. She is French trained by F Graffard. In the USA at Saratoga, there were three Grade 1 races, all of which were run on the dirt. The most exciting was the first of the trio, The Personal Ensign Stakes over 1 mile 1 furlong in which there was a serious tussle between Vexatious who beat Midnight Bisou with the other three runners along way behind. In the second Grade 1 over the same distance, The Witney Stakes, Improbable showed a clean pair of heels to win quite comfortably against his four rivals. The third was a seven furlong race which again was a comfortable win for Echo in another five runner contest.
With The Royal International Horse Show cancelled, the equestrian sport horse calendar in the UK was left bereft as this show normally celebrates the best of show jumping including the FEI Nations Cup as well as the King George V Gold Cup. Another international event held at the same time normally is the Hickstead Dressage International with a 5 star FEI CDI Grand Prix and finally, all the showing classes which are the finals of qualifiers in their own right, or qualifiers for the best showing classes in the autumn. A sad loss to us all.
With no FEI competitions over the last week and the relatively slow resumption of national competitions in various countries, (Scotland can hold no competition at all under their government guidelines) the sport horse news rather seems to have a repeated pattern of no shows and cancellations!! Sadly, two of the ten scheduled Winter World Cup European qualifiers have already been abandoned due to the ongoing Covid crisis. Both Stuttgart and Madrid have cancelled.
The WBFSH Young Horse championships have been cancelled. They were due to be held at Lanaken in Belgium but due to the recent spike in Covid cases in the country abandonment was inevitable.