Shergar Cup And Phoenix Prizes Stay At Home But Sad Away Day For Johnston
Irish Eyes Are Smiling in Shergar Cup
Saturday saw Ascot host its best attended fixture outside of the prestigious Royal Ascot Meeting as the Berkshire venue played host to the 2017 edition of the Shergar Cup. One of the most fun and unique events of the calendar year sees teams of jockeys representing Great Britain and Ireland, Europe, the rest of the World, and the Girls locking horns across the six-race card, with points awarded to the first five home in each contest.
This year’s renewal proved to be a real thriller, with all bar the girls having a chance of claiming glory headed into the final race. Cometh the hour, cometh the man though. Fran Berry had been on the winning team in each of his two previous Shergar Cup outings, and duly swooped to conquer aboard Golden Apollo in the finale; securing both the trophy for his team, and top individual jockey for himself.
2000 Not Out For Spencer
Another major contributor to the victory of team Great Britain and Ireland was racings favourite come from behind specialist, Jamie Spencer. The Irishman’s victory aboard Stake Acclaim in the opener set the ball rolling for his team, and also marked a significant personal milestone for the rider.
Now officially a member of the 2000 winners club, Spencer is a testament to the power of persistence having endured his share of adversity over the years. There are few better judges of pace than Spencer, and no one we would rather have on our side in sprint or straight mile contests.
Same Old Story In Phoenix Stakes
It won’t come as the biggest surprise to Irish racing fans that it was Aidan O’Brien who landed the major Group 1 of the weekend. Responsible for half of the eight-runner field, and having already triumphed in the Curragh’s Phoenix Stakes on no fewer than 15 previous occasions, The Master of Ballydoyle was certainly the man they all had to beat.
O’Brien was again untouchable here as his Norfolk Stakes winner, Sioux Nation was not for catching once hitting the front inside the final furlong. Chief amongst O’Brien’s victims this year was the previously unbeaten, Beckford from the yard of Gold Cup winning trainer, Gordon Elliott.
Farewell To A Warrior
Without doubt the saddest story of this weekend came with the news that Mark Johnston’s Permian had lost his life out in America. Breaking down badly after the line in the Grade 1 Secretariat Stakes, it was soon discovered he had suffered a catastrophic leg fracture and the decision was made that he be humanely euthanised at the track. Having won twice at Group 2 level, this three year old son of Teofilo was a colt of considerable ability, ability which was perhaps only surpassed by his immense heart.
A true battler who seemed to revel in his racing, trainer’s lives would be a lot easier if all were so game and genuine. Having been expected to race on into next season and beyond, this was a sad loss for connections in particular, and the world of racing as a whole. Thoughts also go out to Permian’s jockey William Buick who suffered a fractured vertebrae in the incident. Thankfully the early prognosis appears positive and Buick is expected to make a full recovery.