There is happy and sad news for the racing world as top chaser Florida Pearl has been retired at the age of 12, while superstar three-year-old filly Ouija Board, who has won both the English and Irish Oaks, is due to remain in training next year.
Florida Pearl is perhaps most renowned for his superb defeat of Best Mate in the 2001 King George VI Chase at Kempton, under Adrian Maguire.
The twelve-year-old won 16 of his 33 outings, getting off to a flying start with five wins in the first five starts of his career. Thereafter, the highlights include three victories in the Hennessy Gold Cup, two Cheltenham festival wins, and the Martell Cup at Aintree.
Although the Cheltenham Gold Cup was a trophy which trainer Willie Mullins chased with Florida Pearl, it eternally eluded him, although the horse came a fairly distant third to See More Business in 1999 and a much closer second to Looks Like Trouble in 2000.
His career spanned seven years, and in only one season did the horse race without success. But he bounced back from that – last season – to win on both of his outings this year, going out on a high as he was paraded by his former trainer and former jockey Adrian Maguire at Galway racecourse.
Ouija Board to stay in training
Ouija Board has had a magical season this year, with two classic wins as she triumphed in both the English and the Irish Oaks in June and July. On both occasions she beat Godolphin’s Punctilious, who had been widely considered to be second only to Attraction in her generation.
Now owner Lord Derby, who currently has only one horse in training, has confirmed that he will keep the filly in training next season, delighting in her quality for as long as he can.
Ouija Board’s next outing is due to be a bid for victory in the Yorkshire Oaks at the Ebor meeting on 18 August. She is set to meet old rival Punctilious once again, who is still seeking a Group 1 win. Thereafter, plans are flexible, says Lord Derby.