Thursday 17 January 2019

Barzalona on another level

Teen rider's genius the real story in memorable Derby

As one of the sport's most famous races, the queen winning the Derby on Saturday with Carlton House would have been a fairytale result for the general British public, and for those who get tied up in the whole Racing For Change saga which is ongoing over there.

A much bigger crowd at Epsom this year than last was testament to that, but it wasn't to be. Ireland's newest royal friend had to settle for third place and the boost for racing hitting a wider audience will have to wait. Or will it?

The French-trained, French-ridden, Irish-owned and Irish-bred win of Pour Moi may not have been the result the majority of the 120,000-odd attendance and millions more watching at home wanted, but this was a seriously good result for racing in the long term.

Britain's handicapper Phil Smith wasn't overly impressed by the winner compared to recent victors; mind you, we've had some above average recent winners of the Epsom Derby.

We will wait and see what Pour Moi goes on to do. It's far for me to disagree with Smith and his judgement, but to come from last like Pour Moi did in the Derby at such a daunting track like Epsom, and win in the manner he did, is impressive.


Then there is the small matter of his jockey Mickael Barzalona. A genius at 19? Not far off it anyway.

A genius with some set of balls on him to do what he did and in the race in which he did it.

The little French rider is, as they'd say around where the Coolmore owners are based, 'only a pup', and on a day when his 46-year-old weighroom colleague Kieren Fallon was writing the early headlines, that's probably a fairly accurate description.

As Barzalona passed the winning line he was only a head in front of the runner-up Treasure Beach, but he was standing at full stretch in his irons doing his very best impression of the Statue Of Liberty.

Criticism poured in for his premature celebrations. Get over it. This is what Flat racing needs. A bit of life and enthusiasm.

FC Barcelona showed last week exactly how the game of football should be played and the world looked on in awe. Barzalona celebrated a brilliant, balls-of-steel ride, and a first British Classic in the most famous of all, the way it should be celebrated and fair play to him.

Barzalona's flair, cockiness and maybe even his bit of arrogance, along with his undoubted talent, will do more to attract, invite and get younger people talking about racing than half of the stuff Racing For Change will ever do.

He is in line to replace Frankie Dettori as No1 to Godolphin and in a year where he was to be just eased into the scene in Britain, he has a record of eight winners from just 19 rides -- a 42pc strike rate. Incredible.

It was a Derby full of talking points as Ryan Moore was clearly annoyed by the backtracking no-hopers who he felt prevented the queen winning her first ever Derby, Michael Stoute his sixth, and Moore himself a second.

Moore and Johnny Murtagh both spoke out about the 'also rans' and again, not to argue with those two champion jockeys, their argument bared a minor reflection on the result as Pour Moi was definitely the best horse on the day.

Moore finished third on the favourite Carlton House, who was a doubt at one stage last week and also lost a front shoe in running 75 yards from the line.

Add all that up and yes maybe connections could feel a shade unlucky, but watch the race again and it's hard to say the winner would have been beat yesterday.


There is no doubting the fact Moore got shuffled wide by the Jamie Spencer-ridden Marhaba Malyoon, who was stopping approaching the straight, but as wide as Moore had to go, the winner went wider.

Pour Moi was last when the interference was going on, and Barzalona followed the former champion jockey all the way before then even hanging into the left and forcing the rider to pull his stick through, straighten him up and go on to win in the shadows of the post.

To be honest, if Pour Moi's win in Saturday's race was depicted in a film you'd be saying it was far-fetched. Stone last in the Derby, shoved wide, hanging behind beaten horses, flying home and a dramatic celebration by a youngster only getting going.

Far-fetched it may have been, but two days ago we witnessed it with our very eyes and Mickael Barzalona you should take a bow.

Promoted articles

Entertainment News