Author: Derek Thompson
IT MAY have reached a freezing minus seven degrees in the UK and Europe last weekend but the action out on the track was red hot and although it was only the first week of April, we could have seen some Classic winners for 2022. Dermot Weld needs no introduction as the legendary Irish trainer has won many of the biggest races around the world.
Now he looks to have a Classic prospect in the shape of Homeless Songs who booked her place in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket next month with an emphatic success in the fillies’ trial at Leopardstown on Saturday. Chris Hayes brought her through to win comfortably and if everything goes according to plan she will attempt to give Weld his first success in the 1000 Guineas.
There was a thrilling finish to the big Derby trial, the Ballysax Stakes, with Piz Badile, trained by Donnacha O’Brien, fighting back to beat Buckaroo, trained by his brother Joseph. Donnacha, who as a jockey rode Nelson to win the Ballysax six years ago, will now aim Piz Badile, homebred by the Niarchos family, at the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial before a tilt at the world’s most famous Classic at Epsom in June.
Meanwhile over in Paris the Andre Fabretrained Agave turned in an impressive performance to win the Prix Penelope at Saint-Cloud and will now be aimed at the Oaks at Epsom. Agave is beautifully bred being by Dubawi out of Contribution who is a half-sister to the great Enable who won the Oaks in 2017!
Christian Williams had a day he will never forget when the former jump jockey, now trainer, sent out the 1-2 in the ultra competitive 23 runner Scottish Grand National at Ayr! Williams, who trains just 20 horses on the beach in South Wales, made the long trip to Scotland and it paid off for his two runners, Win My Wings and Kitty’s Light, came home in front!
And what a victory it was for winning jockey Rob James who is a 7lb claiming amateur. He may have ridden plenty of point to point winners in Ireland but to beat some of the best professionals in the business on his first ride in this four mile race took some doing and he is to be applauded. Williams meanwhile who only started training five years ago has now added the Scottish National to the Welsh National he won two years ago.
The Grand National at Aintree is the big race this weekend and 100,000 racegoers will turn up in Liverpool on Saturday to watch this 40 runner, four mile marathon over 30 of the toughest fences in the world! Snow Leopardess could make a bit of history for she is a grey and only three greys have ever won the race since it was first run in 1839!
What would make victory even more incredible is that Snow Leopardess, who is owned by the world famous Eventing family, the Fox-Pitts, is also a mum; during time off through injury she had a foal by the Derby winner Sir Percy who is now a 2yo! Snow Leopardess, who is trained by Charlie Longsdon, arrives at the track having won her last three races and who knows, it could be a ‘grey’ day at Aintree on Saturday!
Finally well done to Tadhg O’Shea and Bhupat Seemar on becoming racing champions of the UAE. For O’Shea who has made the UAE his home it is his tenth jockeys’ title and although he has won many Group Ones in Arabian Racing he rode his first Group One in Thoroughbred racing when Switzerland won the Golden Shaheen at last month’s Dubai World Cup meeting! An outstanding horseman he is also a fine amabassador for UAE racing and is to be applauded.
And what about Switzerland’s trainer Bhupat Seemar who only took over the trainer’s licence from his uncle Satish a few months ago at Zabeel Stables? To come so far in such a short space of time is a quite remarkable achievement! And well done to Champion Owner and breeder Khalid Khalifa Al Nabooda who has done more than any man I know to promote Arabian racing in the UAE. Congratulations!