• The week’s significant milestones
6 Deep Impact
Japan: Contrail’s hugely impressive victory in the Tokyo Yushun (Japanese Derby) on Sunday [May 31] meant that his sire, the great Deep Impact, has been responsible for an amazing six winners of the world’s most valuable Classic in the last nine years. The others are Deep Brillante (2012), Kizuna (2013), Makahiki (2016), Wagnerian (2018) and Roger Barows (2019).
Contrail will now try to emulate his legendary father, a national icon who died in July 2019, by completing the Japanese Triple Crown in the Kikuka Sho back at Tokyo racecourse on October 25. The most recent of seven horses to achieve the feat was Orfevre in 2011.
Ireland: Sunday [May 31] marked the 50th anniversary of the death of the horse deemed the greatest steeplechaser of all-time by almost anybody who has ever voiced an opinion on the subject.
Untouchable in his prime, the peerless Arkle numbered an unforgettable hat-trick in the Cheltenham Gold Cup, jumping’s most prestigious contest, from 1964-66 among a litany of major prizes, often lumping huge weights against inferior horses under handicap conditions in races such as the Irish Grand National, Hennessy Gold Cup and Whitbread Gold Cup.
An absolute legend of the sport known simply as ‘Himself’ to his legion of fans, Arkle’s Timeform rating of 212 remains by far the highest ever given to a jumper. He was put down aged 13 after suffering with advanced arthritis.
100 William Pike
Australia: William ‘The Wizard’ Pike became the first jockey to ride 100 winners in the city this season with a double at Belmont in Perth on Wednesday [May 27].
Pike, 34, scored on the favourites Nuhad and Bright Diamond in the first two races to take his tally to 99 city winners in Perth – plus Regal Power’s All-Star Mile win at Caulfield in Melbourne.
Pike, who established a new national record last season with 233 wins, leads all Australia again with 189 victories by close of play on Sunday. Barring accidents, he will win the premiership for the fifth time in a row; he is also set to top the Western Australia lists for a 12th straight time.
454 Kempton Park
GB: After a hiatus of 76 days owing to coronavirus, mammoth entries have been the order of the day ahead of the resumption of racing in Britain, with a total of 369 horses put forward for the comeback card at Newcastle on Monday.
However, they were outdone by Kempton’s nine-race card on Tuesday, which attracted 454 entries. With a 12-runner maximum at most distances, only 106 were guaranteed a run after final declarations.
Things weren’t much easier in South Africa, where they finally resumed on the Polytrack at Greyville on Monday [June 1] for the first time since Marc 26.
A total of 376 horses were entered for an eight-race card at the Durban venue; in the end, with a couple of divided races, ten maximum fields of 12 runners were declared.