Zoe Davison with daughter Gemelle Johnson at Lingfield Park in 2012
The first week of the New Year always tends to be a quiet time for news stories as things slowly begin to crank up again after the holidays, but this week this column somewhat resembles a trusty local newspaper with its births, deaths and marriages columns.
So without further ado, let’s run through those racing headers this week…
There is no top level horse racing without great breeding and it will come as no surprise to find that Galileo claimed his 12th British and Irish champion sire crown in 2020, a year in which he broke the world record for producing the most individual Group/Grade 1 scorers of all time and became the first stallion to provide five winners of the Derby.
In 2020 Galileo was responsible for bringing us Group 1 winners Circus Maximus, Love, Magical, Mogul, Peaceful, Search For A Song, Serpentine and Shale, with their combined prize money pay cheques coming in at a cool £5.273m
Galileo ended 2020 with an amazing 89 elite-level winners to his name and this dominance looks like continuing well into 2021 and beyond.
At the last count 137 Galileo juveniles are on the cusp of making their breakthroughs, among which 32 are the offspring of Group/Grade 1-winning mares. It’s a dynasty that will dominate the headlines for many years to come on the Flat racing scene.
Not to be outdone, the Jumps sphere also have their current “daddy”, and that sire is Coastal Path.
Understandably there is no comparison to be had with Galileo in terms of prize money, covering fees, etc but Coastal Path has been involved in nine Graded winners in the current NH campaign to date and that may go up again with the Cheltenham Festival looming on the horizon.
Tributes poured in on Sunday for the trainer Zoe Davison who sadly lost her brave battle with breast cancer.
It was a day of mixed emotions as the Davison stable also experienced the euphoria of saddling a double when Brown Bullet and Mr Jack both won for the East Grinstead-based trainer at Plumpton Races.
In what turned out to be an afternoon of fate – divine led or otherwise, and just a few hours after the Davison team had celebrated the emotional successes of both Brown Bullet and Mr Jack landing their respective races, the sad news came through that Davison had passed away in hospital.
Sails Legend, with AP McCoy aboard, won at Towcester in November 1997 and was Davison’s very first winner as a trainer.
She enjoyed her best season with 15 successes in the 2017-18 season and as of yesterday had sent out over 100 winners.
Her yard was being run by Davison’s husband Irvine and her daughter Gemelle Johnson herself a former jockey. It is hoped and is highly likely that the popular family on the Southern racing circuit will continue her training legacy.
Not quite a marriage as yet, but an intention to have one was announced last week by the popular young jockey couple, Tom Marquand and Hollie Doyle.
Marquand broke the news on social media with a lovely picture of him and Doyle on a beach enjoying their winter break, with the caption: ‘So err… thanks 2020 I guess?!’
It’s been quite a year for the pairing on the track with both of them celebrating their first victories at Royal Ascot and had doubles on British Champions Day.
Doyle was the first woman to ride five winners at one meeting and was third in the BBC Sports Personality Of The Year Awards, while Marquand came third in the flat jockeys’ title race and rode Galileo Chrome to victory in the St Leger.
And now for the crossword…
Clue – A French word for profession or trade (six letters). Answer = Metier.
The Harry Fry-trained Metier was the impressive winner of the Grade One Tolworth Novices’ Hurdle at Sandown on Saturday and is now a major fancy for the Supreme Novices’ Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
The five-year-old is rated a 7/1 chance with bet365* for the Cheltenham Festival opener.