Dubai: I do not think it is an exaggeration to say that Danedream deserves a special place in the pantheon of the equine sporting world’s all-time greats, following her spectacular victory in the King George VI and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot last week.
Already it’s being hailed as one of the great performances as she took on Nathaniel, a horse believed to be at the peak of his powers, and beat him fair and square.
For a filly who only cost €9,000 (Dh40,000) she has given her owners so much fun and happiness with her exploits in some of the biggest races around the world. Who can forget her spellbinding five-length win in last year’s Prix de la Arc de Triomphe, to say the least.
The King George is arguably one of the greatest races on the British calendar and it has been won by some of the sport’s finest champions ever, like Shergar, Brigadier Gerard and Swain, so, to join such an illustrious list is an absolute honour.
Full credit to her trainer Peter Schiergen for keeping her supremely race fit and focused on the job.
Focus is something the world’s top athletes thrive on as it allows them to fully engage in whatever activity their are doing. I would imagine that it’s not all that easy to ensure that your horse can focus on what he or she has to do. Losing focus, even briefly, like when you trip on the sidewalk can prove costly and in a horse race there is little margin for error.
But every step Danedream took seemed error-free and I would even say that I think she was really enjoying herself, although I’m not too sure if she liked the treatment she got from her jockey Andrash Starke towards the end of the race.
Starke was caught up in the moment as he was locked in combat throughout the final furlong with William Buick aboard Nathaniel, that he forgot to count the numbers of strikes he gave his horse. It cost him a six day ban.
Interestingly the British Horseracing Authority, who has stressed that they will not tolerate abuse of the horse and consider its welfare is of paramount importance, saw Buick and third placed rider Joseph O’Brien also in breech of the whips rules. Clearly, all three riders are aware of the rules, but they chose to flout them. Or were they aware that they were flouting them?