Tag Archive for: Authority

Lemaire looks to Riyadh winners to spearhead his Meydan charge

Christophe Lemaire, who since basing himself in Japan has modelled himself into one of the best go-to jockeys in the world, feels he has possibly the best book of rides he has ever assembled for a major international meeting at Meydan on Saturday.

The Frenchman has six mounts on the Dubai World Cup card, but it is Japanese aces Schnell Meister and Authority that he hopes will give him a valuable postscript to his famous haul in Saudi Arabia last month.

Lemaire enjoyed a stellar day at Riyadh racecourse, riding four winners including Neom Turf Cup victor Authority and Red Sea Turf Handicap hero Stay Foolish – both of whom run in Dubai.

Lemaire and Authority after their Neom Turf Cup win
Lemaire and Authority after their Neom Turf Cup win (Keith Hamer/PA)

The rider observed: “Riding in Dubai, it’s always a pleasure to compete against the best riders and horses in the world and I feel confident because two of the horses I won with in Saudi are running again here.

“I think the main reason for the success of racing in Japan is that they breed to a very high level, while the owners and breeders invest heavily in the purchase of mares and yearlings. They are buying horses with tremendous pedigrees, while places like Dubai and the United States really suit the Japanese horses.”

Authority is carded to start favourite for the Sheema Classic and Lemaire said: “He will be running over a mile and four furlongs and is more used to that trip than 2000 metres (one mile and two furlongs). He stepped up last time, and as a runner-up in the Japan Cup, is a proper Group One horse.

“Also, I think he has improved from last year when he was beaten by Contrail, a champion in Japan. He has stamina and is an easy ride, and not as keen as he was.

“On Saturday it depends on the pace. If it’s strong he can sit third or fourth, but if not he can make the running.”

Stay Foolish after his Riyadh win
Stay Foolish after his Riyadh win (Keith Hamer/PA)

Stay Foolish is Lemaire’s mount in the Dubai Gold Cup and the jockey explained: “His win in Saudi was a bit of a surprise. He went there in excellent condition, but I didn’t expect such domination from him.

“It was his first try at 3,000 metres (one mile and seven furlongs) and he really liked it. On Saturday, I hope he will be comfortable and improve his pace in the final straight.”

There is talk of Stay Foolish heading for Australia later in the year and Lemaire added: “Japanese horses have performed perfectly well in the Melbourne Cup and he’s got the ability to do well in it. He’s an easy ride and I think he would be comfortable on Flemington race track.”

Schnell Meister is another big arrow Lemaire has to fire in the Dubai Turf. The jockey is confident that if the likely strong pace materialises, his horse will take a hand in the finish.

He said: “Schnell Meister is a very good horse and has improved again this year. He’s a good miler but I feel he will be better over a longer trip, and 1,700 metres (one mile and one furlong) is perfect for him. He’s a tough horse and a very strong finisher.

“He beat Songline and then that horse won in Saudi, form which is really good. I rode him yesterday and he looks in very good condition. I’m expecting a big run from him and the pace will help him finish off his race at the end.”

No joy for Pyledriver as Authority runs out a stylish winner of Neom Turf Cup

Pyledriver finished down the field as Japanese runner Authority made every yard of the running to claim the Neom Turf Cup in Riyadh on a special night for Japan and Christophe Lemaire.

Trained by Tetsuya Kimura and ridden by Lemaire, the five-year-old was sent off favourite for the extended 10-furlong event on the back of his second place behind Contrail in the Japan Cup in November.

Smartly away, Lemaire soon had Authority bowling along in front with Sir Michael Stoute’s Solid Stone tracking him through the early exchanges while leading British hope Pyledriver was forced to race out wide after being drawn 14 of 14 runners.

He was clearly in trouble at the top of the straight and quickly back-pedalled, leaving Frankie Dettori to try to mount a challenge aboard the John and Thady Gosden-trained Harrovian.

But Authority just had too much in hand and was always holding him, with Kaspar swooping late to grab the runner-up prize.

American raider Channel Cat dramatically came down in the straight when trying to mount his challenge. Thankfully Channel Cat galloped away, while jockey Joel Rosario was passed fit to take his remaining rides.

Lemaire said: “I could settle the pace the way I wanted without any pressure and then he used his long acceleration. He did the same in Japan. His strength made the difference.

“I knew he could stay the trip very well. The ground is firm and drawn two I knew I he would be very relaxed over the 2100 metres.

“The Japan Cup is one of the best races in the world and he was beaten by a very good horse (Contrail).”

Kimura was thrilled to land the £666,667 first prize, but is already focusing on Authority’s next target – the Sheema Classic at Meydan in a month’s time.

He said: “When he is in good shape he always takes a prominent position early. Today he was in good form and Lemaire knows the horse very well so they decided to take the lead.

“My only focus is to condition the horse for the race to give him the best chance in the race. I think 2100m is a good distance for him so I was not worried about it.

“This is my first overseas trip with a horse so this is the biggest achievement for me.

“First I now have to concentrate on Dubai and the Sheema Classic. The horse leaves for Dubai the day after tomorrow.”

Pyledriver was unplaced for Martin Dwyer
Pyledriver was unplaced for Martin Dwyer (Edward Whitaker/PA)

Martin Dwyer felt Pyledriver’s wide draw had taken its toll.

He said: “The draw hammered me. If they go quick early, it gives you a chance to get in and they didn’t. They went very slow and I was trapped deep the whole way. We live to fight another day, but the draw was against us.”

Of Harrovian, Dettori said: “I had a bad draw. The best horse won, but with a better draw I’d have been second. When you’re three-wide you’re giving so much ground away, but you can’t buy your draw.”

Songline took the sprint honours
Songline took the sprint honours (Jockey Club of Saudi Arabia/ Douglas de Felice)

Songline swooped inside the final furlong of the 1351 Turf Sprint to make it two from two for Lemaire and Japan, with Toru Hayashi the victorious handler this time.

It had looked as though Richard Hannon’s money-spinning filly Happy Romance had done enough to secure the honours as she collared front-runner Naval Crown with a furlong to run.

However, Songline was just finding his top gear on her outside and edged into the lead, with Casa Creed coming from a long way back to pinch second on the line.

Happy Romance delighted Richard Hannon in Riyadh
Happy Romance delighted Richard Hannon in Riyadh (David Davies/PA)

Hannon said: “I’m delighted. She ran a huge race and I thought she was going to win. Every year she needs her first run and I sense she needed it there. She could be a very good sprinter this year. Tom (Marquand) said she’s one of the hardest fillies he’s ever rode.

“She’s been invited to the Al Quoz in Dubai and we’ll probably go there next. Beyond that, it will be races like the Duke of York and Diamond Jubilee Stakes.”

Marquand added: “She ran a huge race and for a minute I thought she was going to hold on. She’s just so tough but over six and half furlongs, she’s just coming to the end of her run.”

Lemaire then made it a hat-trick on a famous night for the rider and Japan as Stay Foolish galloped his rivals into the ground in the Red Sea Turf Handicap.

Once again employing front-running tactics aboard Yoshito Yahagi’s runner, Lemaire bossed the one-mile-seven-furlong contest with Irish raider Princess Zoe one of the few to keep tabs on him through the early stages along with Nayef Road.

They both paid for those efforts as they dropped away quickly, leaving the Charlie Appleby-trained Siskany, who appeared to be travelling well, to throw down the only real challenge.

When Lemaire asked for a bit more though, Stay Foolish lengthened again and he had no trouble holding the finishing flourish of the Johnny Murtagh-trained Sonnyboyliston.

Lemaire said: “I thought Authority and Stay Foolish would be my best rides. I was very confident with Authority as he had the best credentials.

“Then Stay Foolish, I rode him two years ago but I rode him on Wednesday morning at the track here in Riyadh and he gave me a great impression so I could see he was in great condition. I thought he could be a good challenger.

“It is fantastic because it is great for jockeys and trainers to be part of these international meetings. It is always very exciting and a big challenge. If you have the chance to win a race you are the happiest man on earth.

“They are such great competitions, difficult to win so when you can achieve one, two or three winners you are just sailing through the clouds.”

Yahagi, whose major victories last year included two Breeders’ Cup races, the Japan Cup and the Hong Kong Cup, said he hoped to take his latest big-race winner to Australia for the Melbourne Cup.