Fair crack of whip fuels Beschizza's US dream

Jockey enjoying terrific run of success stateside

Fortune favours the brave, they say – Adam Beschizza has literally found that to be the case during his spell riding at Fair Grounds in New Orleans. His terrific run of form is set to see the 25-year-old extend his American adventure to take in Keeneland’s high-profile meeting that begins in early April, and possibly other fixtures beyond that.

With a five-year visa in place, he has the opportunity to establish himself as a leading jockey in the USA

At the time of writing and with just over a week of the season to run, Beschizza had ridden 57 winners – and his mounts earned $1.46 million – to occupy second place in the jockeys’ table, three winners behind Shaun Bridgmohan and one place ahead of Florent Geroux, Gun Runner’s pilot, who had claimed the Fair Grounds riding title in the previous two seasons.

Beschizza spent a few months working in the States in 2009 when an apprentice but had never ridden a winner over there before November. Riding primarily for trainer Joe Sharp, his momentum has propelled him up the table ahead of a host of Fair Grounds regulars, who are probably thinking – who is this British guy with the unusual surname winning all these races?

In Britain, Beschizza has enjoyed some notable successes, his Cambridgeshire-Cesarewitch feat of 2015 the high point of a career that has yielded over 200 winners to date. The aforementioned ‘Autumn Double’ earned him plaudits but not, it seems, a high-profile job with a big stable. When the opportunity arose to return to the States, he took it with both hands. How it’s paying off.

Of course, Beschizza is not the first jockey to cross the Atlantic and try his luck. A glance further down the Fair Grounds standings reveals the names of compatriots Jack Gilligan (24 winners) and Sophie Doyle (ten winners). At Golden Gate Fields in California, Tom Queally is giving it a go, while Darryll Holland has based himself at Gulfstream Park in Florida. However none has made the same impact as Adam Beschizza, who must be congratulated for his endeavour in trying something new to improve himself.

So how long will Beschizza’s American tour continue? “In my heart I’d be back in England tomorrow,” the rider tells Tim Richards (Talking To, pages 52-55). “But my mind is telling me that professionally, this is the best place to be.” The number of winners, as always, will dictate his next move. With a five-year visa in place, he has the opportunity to establish himself as a leading jockey in the USA.

Richard Johnson has no need to do anything different in the saddle and in the Colin Tizzard-trained, Brocade Racing-owned Native River, he found the perfect ally to help capture his second Cheltenham Gold Cup in March.

This year’s Blue Riband will live long in the memory, as Native River and Might Bite had the race between themselves from some way out. Might Bite under Nico de Boinville looked to be travelling the better turning for home but his rival would not lie down and after a titanic duel, it was Native River who emerged victorious under a terrific front-running ride from Johnson. George Selwyn’s superb photos capture all the drama of this year’s Festival on pages 18-26.

For Nicky Henderson, Might Bite’s defeat was a minor setback in a week that saw the champion trainer take the Champion Hurdle with Buveur D’Air for the second year running and the Queen Mother Champion Chase with Altior.

Buveur D’Air will bid to emulate his owner JP McManus’s brilliant hurdler Istabraq by winning three Champion Hurdles, though the route for the outstanding Altior appears less certain. The way he finished his race, after never looking happy on the testing ground, suggests a step up in trip would suit. Could he be a potential Cheltenham Gold Cup winner? Possibly. Is he the most exciting chaser in training? Definitely.

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