It’s a fair bet Mickael Barzalona didn’t read my column in this magazine 12 months ago. For a start, he knows very little English, but had he taken the time to peruse Owner & Breeder following the 2010 Derby he might have come across the following observation about the victorious jockey, Ryan Moore.
“Moore is not a man who shows much emotion, in or out of the saddle,” I commented after Workforce’s brilliant display. “He refuses to indulge in whip-waving, finger-pointing or exuberant celebration when a big winner comes his way.”
Even if Monsieur Barzalona had seen those words, it’s unlikely he would have taken much notice, judging by his incredible Derby ride on Pour Moi, when the teenager decided that winning the race was so good he didn’t want to wait until it was over before he started celebrating.
We could well be witnessing the embryonic career of one of the finest talents ever to throw his leg over a thoroughbred
Watching the event live I thought he had misjudged the wining post in what could have been the mother of all sporting cock-ups. Yet up until the last few yards he appeared to have produced a ride of utter brilliance aboard a horse placed stone last approaching the home straight.
As it turned out, he secured victory by a head, later claiming that he knew he would win. So was it supreme confidence in his own ability, and that of the horse beneath him, that gained the day, luck, or a bit of both?
If it’s the former – and the fact that none other than Andre Fabre has seen fit to put his faith in the 19-year-old would suggest this is the case – we could well be witnessing the embryonic career of one of the finest talents ever to throw his leg over a thoroughbred.
However you view this year’s Derby-winning ride, it’s sure to be talked about for years to come. George Selwyn’s fabulous image on page 45 captures Barzalona looking the wrong way as Colm O’Donoghue asks eventual runner-up Treasure Beach for maximum effort in the drive for the line.
What would happen if Pour Moi met Frankel is anyone’s guess. Any meeting between the two would almost certainly have to take place over ten furlongs, and while the latter is yet to race beyond a mile, James Willoughby, in his exclusive column for this magazine (page 23), feels a step up in trip is exactly what Khalid Abdullah’s unbeaten colt needs.
Tom Queally was widely criticised for his ride aboard Frankel in the St James’s Palace Stakes but Willoughby, using his own analysis based on sectional timing and stride-pattern, suggests we should not be blaming the man on top for the narrow winning margin, as most did.
If Frankel’s performance in victory was a let-down to some, So You Think’s second place behind Rewilding in the Prince Of Wales’s Stakes was a huge disappointment in view of the massive hype surrounding him.
He may still prove to be the superstar we have been led to believe he is but the proof of the pudding, in this instance, is on the racecourse and at present the imposing son of High Chaparral has to prove he can dominate our racing scene as he did down under.
So You Think still has time on his side to prove his star quality, however further defeats would weaken not only his reputation but also the idea that Australian racing at the top level is superior to that in Britain and Ireland, a view expressed by certain racing figures.
Also in this issue, Rachel Hood gives her first interview since taking over the ROA Presidency, Hughie Morrison, in double-winning form at Royal Ascot, talks to Alan Lee about his aristocratic background and decision to embark on a training career while Emma Berry experiences the Grand National, Swedish style.