Johannesburg claims the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, Banks Hill takes the Filly & Mare Turf, and Fantastic Light triumphs in the Turf

Irish scenes more akin to the Cheltenham Festival than American racing greeted Aidan O’Brien’s Johannesburg after his spectacular victory in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Belmont, New York on Saturday.

Johannesburg’s annihilation of the best the home team could throw at him was the performance of the night, though the trans-Atlantic raiders had much to celebrate.

The Andre Fabre-trained Banks Hill was so far clear of the Filly & Mare Turf field on the final bend that her jockey Olivier Peslier thought he had another turn to take. They posted the biggest winning margin of five-and-a-half lengths on turf in the 18-year history of the Breeders’ Cup.

And to crown a night of European joy Godolphin’s Newmarket stable came within inches of bringing off the biggest double in world racing.

Fantastic Light vindicated the Maktoum family’s decision to switch him from the Classic to the Turf with a determined win from Aidan O’Brien’s fast-finishing Milan.

Then Sakhee failed in a gripping head-to-head with last year’s Classic hero Tiznow. It was only when the courageous Tiznow jutted his chin towards the finishing line that he asserted himself in the dying strides.

It was so disappointing to see the best middle distance horse in Europe humbled in the final 20 yards of an otherwisefaultless season. But salute the brave Tiznow, who was back from injury to become the first horse to win back-to-back Classics.

What a night it would have been for Godolphin had Sakhee prevailed. For, their American-based stable, run by Eoin Harty, also sent out the first and second, Tempera and Imperial Gesture in the Juvenile Fillies.

The saddest sight of the day was the dual Derby winner Galileo back-pedalling as the field swung into the final bend. Kinane reported: “He just couldn’t adapt to the conditions and was struggling to get hold of the dirt.” Galileo will now not be retired to Coolmore Stud in Ireland as planned.

Arab owners, Prince Khalid Abdullah (Banks Hill) and the Maktoums (Fantastic Light, Sakhee, Tempera and Imperial Gesture) donated their prize-money of $3m to the New York Heroes Fund set up following the tragic events of September 11 at nearby Manhattan.

Read the full Breeder’s Cup report, plus the rest of last weekend’s racing news, in this week’s (1 November) Horse & Hound magazine, or click here to subscribe online at a reduced rate.