Jameka’s BMW brilliance, and Arrogate shows he’s one of the best

Tristan Rayner Editor

By , Tristan Rayner is a Roar Editor

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    Jameka. (AAP Image: Joe Castro)

    The weekend gave us two big, big performances from our next-best mare and one of their possible greats.

    Jameka

    The Group 1 BMW (nee Tancred) over 2400m was an exciting race courtesy of a bold mid-race move by Brenton Avdulla on Lasqueti Spirit.

    From the widest barrier, Avdulla pushed forward to take up the running. Jameka, ridden by Hugh Bowman, sat behind her with the field bunched behind.

    Just after the 1400m mark, Avdulla pushed the button. The success of stealing the Oaks, as he did before on the same horse, was on his mind.

    With Avdulla letting go, Lasqueti burst to eight or ten lengths in front with 1000m to go, hoping to again catch everyone napping.

    The problem for Avdulla this time was he gave Bowman the perfect chance to get Jameka into her rhythm a long way out, her action allowing her to give an even chase and eat up the gap.

    By the 600m she’d closed the gap completely, and Bowman looked like he was doing it easily. Up front, Avdulla was already desperately urging his tiring filly.

    By the 400m, Jameka swept past and the field were off the bit chasing behind.

    It was a dominant 6.5 length win, with Australian Cup winner Humidor a long second.

    Bowman was full of compliments for the mare in the post-race interview with Bruce McAvaney on Seven.

    Tellingly, though, with Jameka likely to head to the Queen Elizabeth next, Bowman quietly smiled while dismissing McAvaney’s questions of possibly giving up the ride on Winx.

    ‘No chance’ was the message, even if delivered more politely.

    The problem for Jameka is the Queen Elizabeth is over 2000m, right in the bulls-eye for Winx.

    The classic mile and a half of 2400m (or beyond) would be more interesting. That’s where Jameka claimed the Caulfield Cup, now the BMW and, at 2500m, the Oaks. Winx’ last defeat was in the ATC Oaks over 2400m in 2015.

    In any case, thank goodness Jameka is a mare, and a brilliant staying mare at that. I thought Roarer Diggerbill wrote an especially good article for a first attempt in the piece “Where have the good horses gone,” prompted by the ridiculously sad decision that saw Flying Artie and Extreme Choice retired to stud, where they’ll fetch a fortune off the track as racing on the track suffers and the whole game shambles along

    Arrogate

    Meanwhile, we’re fortunate to see the four-year-old entire in Arrogate racing at the highest level, and what a performance on the dirt to win the US$10 million Dubai World Cup (2000m).

    Wearing Juddmonte colours, just as Frankel did, Arrogate walked out of the barriers at the start, and was squeezed out to be consigned to last place.

    From there, jockey Mike Smith channelled his experience on the amazing last-to-first mare in Zenyatta, to surge Arrogate through the invitation field and explode past his rivals to a remarkable win.

    Watching live, I didn’t think he’d be in with a chance and in the replay, it’s still astonishing as he eats the flying dirty and sand for the majority of the trip.

    The Americans were in raptures, including Arrogate’s trainer Bob Baffert, said after the race this horse is “the greatest horse we’ve seen since Secretariat”.

    It’s hard to blame them given he’s beaten California Chrome twice and set track records along the way. In a race career where he started off less than a year ago, finishing third on his debut in a maiden race, he’s only raced eight times to claim four Grade 1s. Three other wins came in maidens and claiming races.

    Yet thanks to the riches from the Emirates and Sheikh Mohammed, and the US$12m Pegasus World Cup (now replicated in Australia as The Everest), in winning just seven times, he’s now the richest prize winner in history. It’s extraordinary, really.

    There are knocks on the quality of the field, how Dubai form stacks up, and dirt racing compared to turf. But all that aside, it was a spine-tingling performance.

    Winx vs Arrogate?

    Of course, so many racing fans are dreaming of a Winx versus Arrogate clash.

    At least distance isn’t a problem – 1800m or 2000m would be just fine for both.

    But the issue of dirt racing versus turf, let alone the quagmire that is the Lasix debate, probably means it’s unlikely.

    Still, Winx’ trainer Chris Waller said that Baffert once told him Winx would be suited to dirt tracks.

    “Bob Baffert said to me her racing style looks like a dirt horse and being by Street Cry he’d be surprised if she wasn’t,” Waller said earlier this year while in London for the Longines World’s Best Racehorse Awards, where Winx was named the world’s best turf horse, behind Arrogate overall.

    That’s enticing, even if the chances are somewhere between Ascot installing a dirt track and Frankel returning to the track to make it a three-horse spectacle.

    It doesn’t hurt to dream, though.

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