WHERE to start?
Oisin Murphy’s positive cocaine test? Nah, too negative. GAIN’s contaminated feed story? Far too negative. Fancy Blue retiring?
Nope, let’s focus on the positive stories!
Women across the sporting world will have been inspired by the achievements of Italian jockey Jessica Marcialis, as she made history by becoming the first female jockey to win a Group One race in France, after riding Tiger Tanaka to win the Prix Marcel Boussac on Sunday.
There she stood in her soil spattered racing silks for media interviews while resting her son on her hip, one couldn’t help a wry smile. There was something revolutionary about the scene that words couldn’t describe. It can be done ladies.
Twenty-four hours earlier, Tony Mullins and Joey Sheridan reminded us all to dream big and keep trying, as they achieved what seemed impossible with a mare that was inexpensively bought as a jumping prospect.
Longchamp’s rain-sodden ground managed to disable Enable’s fairytale but it didn’t perturb Princess Zoe from becoming the fairytale story that all industry folk need at this time of prevailing darkness and uncertainty.
Heavily campaigned in her native Germany, Princess Zoe won only twice from 15 starts. Now at the age of five, the beautiful grey mare has won five times from only six starts since joining Tony Mullins over the summer.
Beaten on her Irish debut at Navan in June off a mark of 62, Princess Zoe has since won two premier handicaps, a Listed race at Galway before staying on best in the Group 1 Prix du Cadran last Saturday under a masterfully patient ride from 18-year-old apprentice Joey Sheridan.
Tony Mullins has been associated with great horses in the past, but even he admitted that "the days of Dawn Run and Grabel were great, but this just tops the lot."
Mullins would have had any number of top jockeys ringing to ride this mare as the likes of Maxime Guyon and Cristophe Soumillion had no ride in the race but Mullins stood by his rider despite his obvious youth and inexperience. What Sheridan did possess though, was knowledge of his partner and confidence in her abilities that most couldn’t replicate.
Inevitably, future targets were on the post race agenda with her trainer suggesting that a tilt at next year’s Arc more likely that an appearance at the Cheltenham Festival in March. Whatever connections decide, her achievement on the biggest of stages gives hope to everyone. Horses can take you to the top, you just need to find the one in a million!
So what’s on the agenda this weekend. Well, I’m at the Curragh on Sunday for the final time this season but the real quality action is cross-channel at Newmarket.
During what must have been a torrid weekend of phone calls and frustration, the O’Brien’s hope to put GAIN’s feed fiasco behind them as the trio send a formidable team across the Irish Sea for the Dewhurst meeting.
Twelve months ago, Quadrilateral beat Love and Cayenne Pepper in the Fillies Mile. This year’s line-up includes a strong Irish contingent where it seems Joseph’s Pretty Gorgeous could have ideal conditions to turn the form around with Donnacha’s Group 1 winner Shale.
Shale and Pretty Gorgeous have met three times, the former winning twice including a gutsy performance in the Moyglare Stakes but with the prospect of soft ground on the horizon at Newmarket, I’m siding with the latter to level the score and compensate connections for missing last Sunday’s Prix Marcel Boussac.
Tomorrow’s Dewhurst Stakes has an illustrious roll of honour which includes Shamardal, Rock Of Gibraltar and the brilliant Frankel. So who will join them tomorrow afternoon?
The home challenge is strong. Richard Hannon’s impressive Champagne Stakes winner Chindit leads the market and remains unbeaten in his three career starts while Marcus Tregoning has supplemented his exciting Mill Reef Stakes winner Alkumait for the Group 1 event.
These colts are good but they will have to be very good to fend off the raiding party.
Joseph O’Brien’s National Stakes winner Thunder Moon looked awesome at the Curragh on Irish Champions Weekend while Jessica Harrington’s leading juvenile Cadilac was very good at Leopardstown on the same weekend.
This is not a race to wage bets, rather one to watch with an eye to future investments. Let’s just hope the ground doesn’t scupper what looks another brilliant weekend on the track.