Joshua Tree triumphs for Moore and Dunlop

FORTY years after the legendary Secretariat ended his career by winning the Canadian International, Joshua Tree (Ed Dunlop/Ryan Moore) created a small piece of racing history when he became the first horse to capture the $1 million contest three times.

The six-year-old dug in late to keep at bay the late challenge of Hyper to claim Canada’s most prestigious race by three-quarters of a length.

Remarkably, Joshua Tree has won the Grade 1 contest for three different trainers, ridden by three different jockeys – and for good measure he was also runner-up two years ago.

Joshua Tree’s first success came in 2010 under Ballydoyle stalwart Colm O’Donoghue when he was still trained by Aidan O’Brien before joining Marco Botti, for whom he scored 12 months ago under Frankie Dettori.

Owned by Khalid Al Nabooda and Kamel Albahou, the son of Montjeu is now trained by Ed Dunlop, for whom he was recording his first success. Indeed, he hadn’t won a race of any kind since last year’s Canadian International and had faded to finish down the field after making the running in the Arc on his most recent start.

With yielding conditions on his side yet again at his favourite venue, Joshua Tree was sent off just over a 13-2 chance at Woodbine, where this time he was ridden by Ryan Moore.

Although he missed a beat at the gate, Joshua Tree was soon pushed up to take the perfect stalking position on the fence tracking outsider Stormy Len, who made the running with the favourite Slumber on his flank.

Stormy Len obligingly drifted out on the home turn, leaving Moore with a gap wide enough to drive a bus through.

Although Joshua Tree soon kicked away to a three-length lead, he needed to be driven to hold off US-trained Hyper, who closed well enough inside the final furlong. Germany’s Seismos stayed on for third a similar distance back while Slumber faded to finish only sixth. The winning time was 2m35.45s.

“He started a little slow but we had a nice spot,” Moore said. “I was quite happy to let the other horse take the lead and he was hanging right the whole way so I thought I’d get a good run up the inside and kick home.

“I didn’t want to get into the race too early but I saw Mike Smith [on Slumber] was going to come around and I probably went a bit earlier than I would have liked ideally. But I knew my horse is very tough and he stays – he wasn’t going to get outfought. When they come off the bridle, he’s the strongest stayer on the block.”

Dunlop’s travelling assistant Andrew Stringer said: “As soon as he hit the front and opened up three or four lengths, it was game over. There was no way he was going to get beat.

“He seems to be at home here and we had a bit of rain which helped,” added Stringer. “I just can’t believe it that he’s won three Group 1 races here for three different trainers with three different training methods. It just goes to show you how tough and genuine this horse is.”

Joshua Tree could end his career at the Hong Kong International meeting in December before going to stud in France.

Source: Racing Post 27th October 2013

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