Barzalona rises to the occasion again

Barzalona rises to the occasion again

DUBAI - Reuters
Barzalona rises to the occasion again

Mickael Barzalona (R) celebrates after he rode Monterosso from Great Britain to victory at the Dubai World Cup race March 31 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. AP photo

French jockey Mickael Barzalona rose out of his irons and saluted the crowd, his right arm high in the air in a trademark celebration, as he flashed by the winning post to claim the Dubai World Cup on Monterosso on Saturday.

It was another flamboyant display of joy to mark his victory in the $10 million race, the sport’s richest, after a similar reaction last year when he won the Epsom Derby on Pour Moi.

On that occasion the critics came out in force saying he could have unbalanced his horse with a victory salute that began before the finish especially as he only won by a head.

Barzalona, 20, was at it again in Dubai but the difference this time was that he had three lengths to spare over stable mate Capponi, both trained by Mahmoud al-Zarooni for the Godolphin operation of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum.

Barzalona indicated he was unlikely to change despite the critics. When asked why he celebrated so flamboyantly, he replied quite simply: “I just had to. I had no choice.”

The trademark characteristic has clearly not deterred Sheikh Mohammed and his associates who signed up Barzalona at the beginning of this month to join Godolphin.

He links up with Frankie Dettori, Ahmed Ajtebi and Brazilian Silvestre de Sousa as the boys in the blue silks for the powerful stable.

Dettori remains number one but in the longer term Barzalona could well succeed him.

Sheikh Mohammed said: “Frankie is a great jockey but we have many horses to run... so we need more jockeys. So we have these jockeys now for Godolphin and I am very pleased with it.”

Barzalona, meanwhile, was busy talking about a race that has raised his profile even further on the global stage. “The entire race I had a feeling that I was going really well, that the pace was actually not too strong and the horse was travelling very easily. I was surprised when I looked around and there was no one there. But I would have been even more surprised if they caught me,” he said.
“He quickened really, really well and when I saw that the favourite So You Think was beaten and Capponi was not going any further I really thought who’s going to come and beat me.”