A Shin Hikari is in a different league at Chantilly
Inspired by the brilliance of Winx on Saturday, we’ve looked at six of the most awe-inspiring Flat performances of the year and ranked them based on the style of the winner and the quality of the race.
6. A SHIN HIKARI
Race: Prix d’Ispahan, Chantilly
In hindsight the combination of heavy ground and racing prominently probably combined to make A Shin Hikari look like Pegasus in the Prix d’Ispahan.
Visually the ‘Beast from the East’ was intimidatingly good, and looked as if he was going to rip apart European middle-distance racing like Godzilla on one of its trademark rampages.
Ridden handily by Yutaka Take, A Shin Hikari slammed the likes of New Bay, My Dream Boat, Mondialiste and Erupt by ten lengths and more.
Overall (average of style and quality): 3/5
Pakistan Star (left) sporting his eye-catching silks
PICTURE: RP GRAPHICS
5. PAKISTAN STAR
Race: Class 2, Sha Tin
Some horses, like some people, are just cool. Pakistan Star is a cool horse.
Racing in vivid green and white silks, and with a similarly eye-catching hood to complete the outfit, Pakistan Star created quite an impression on his debut at Sha Tin when starting slowly before rattling through to win.
His second outing was even more startling as he wandered out of the stalls and was stone last with two furlongs to go. A furlong and a half later he was in front and coasted through the final stages, probably arching an eyebrow and giving a cheeky wink to the crowd.
Arrogate: must have joined in at halfway in the Travers Stakes
PICTURE: Jessie Holmes/EquiSport Photos
Race: Travers Stakes, Saratoga
Clean from mud and full of running, the most obvious explanation for Arrogate’s win was that he had sneakily hidden in the bushes at the home turn and jumped in at the front to power home.
The reality was all the more remarkable as the Bob Baffert-trained grey travelled powerfully at the head of the field in the Travers Stakes and made a classy field, which included Exaggerator and Creator, look bang average.
It was just his third start, and his first in Grade 1 company, and he could not have been much better. Next task: the Breeders’ Cup Classic next month.
Frankie Dettori and Lady Aurelia storm home in the Queen Mary
PICTURE: Getty Images
3. LADY AURELIA
Race: Queen Mary, Ascot
We have learnt that when Wesley Ward rolls into town for Royal Ascot with a highly-regarded juvenile then we should expect something special.
Few of his horses have arrived at the meeting with bigger reputations that Lady Aurelia, although Ward’s pre-race tubthumping about her being the best ever did not sit that comfortably with the more reserved Brits.
Well, it is fair to say Ward was spot on as Lady Aurelia travelled with typical ease before bursting clear as if she was on rocket boosters to turn the Queen Mary, one of the best juvenile races of the season, into a rout as jockey Frankie Dettori saluted the crowd.
California Chrome: ridiculously good when winning at Del Mar
2. CALIFORNIA CHROME
Race: Pacific Classic, Del Mar
‘Oh no!’ you thought as California Chrome pinged the lids in the Pacific Classic and keenly went to the front in the hands of Victor Espinoza. Surely he couldn’t win racing this freely?
He was soon into his groove under Espinoza and on the turn for home he had Beholder (9 x Group 1 winner) and Dortmund (2 x Grade 1 winner, third in BC Classic) in serious trouble.
You felt your eyes were tricking you, but he was off and away to record a thumping five-length win.
A dejected Gary Stevens, rider of Beholder, said: “Victor was playing with us. I don’t think he really let him run. That’s scary to think about.”
Winx: just a perfect racehorse
PICTURE: Getty Images
You can go to many places, you can watch many races and you can see many horses, but you will struggle to find another one quite as good and quite as perfect as Winx.
She lined up for the Cox Plate off the back of 12 successive wins, albeit her towering reputation and mighty class advantage had resulted in some of her races being little more than a exercise canter – albeit with a nice chunk of prize-money picked up at the end.
This race was different. She was facing a high-class rival in Hartnell and she was going to have to battle to defend her title. In theory at least.
What happened next was wonderful, jaw-dropping and frankly ridiculous as she showed a scintillating turn of foot to pass Hartnell and surge clear. What a mare. What a performance.
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