It is rare when we consider naming more than one winner for any of our Performers of the Week awards, but this week there could have been four joint winners in the riding category.
TRC JOCKEY OF THE WEEK
As they have been all year, the Ortiz brothers were in sizzling form at Belmont Park last week, scooping up three Graded winners apiece, all for Trainer of the Week Chad Brown. Either Irad Jr (+1pt, stays #12) or Jose (+3pts, up from #10 to #9), or both, could have taken the honour.
But the Puerto Rican pair have each snapped up this particular award many times recently, so this time it goes instead to Australia, and to joint winners.
JAMES McDONALD (+4pts, stays #16) and KERRIN McEVOY (+2pts, stays #17) grabbed two Group winners each, evidence of their fine fettle ahead of their journeys north to ride at Royal Ascot next week.
Both McEvoy’s scorers were at G1 level - Trekking for Godolphin trainer James Cummings in the Stradbroke Handicap at Eagle Farm in Brisbane, and Prince Fawaz for Cummings’ father and brother, Anthony and Edward Cummings, in the JJ Atkins Plate. McDonald landed a G2 double, also at Eagle Farm, for trainer Chris Waller.
McEvoy, who was due to ride at the Royal meeting anyway - on the Australian sprinter Houtzen in Tuesday’s G1 King’s Stand Stakes, may stay in Europe until the middle of July while injured Godolphin jockey William Buick (-1pt, stays #6) remains on the sidelines. James Doyle (-3pts, drops to #21 from #19) is likely to be on most of the higher-profile Godolphin runners in that time, but trainer Charlie Appleby is keen for McEvoy to be available beyond Ascot.
McEvoy, who rode for Godolphin in Britain for four seasons in the early 2000s, won the Melbourne Cup for Appleby on Godolphin’s Cross Counter last November, and he will doubtless be keen to renew that partnership on next Thursday’s Gold Cup.
New Zealander McDonald’s return to the higher echelons of the rankings is now almost complete after a self-inflicted break from the sport. A former Godolphin rider himself, the 27-year-old is likely to be much in demand at the Royal meeting, where victory on the subsequent Breeders’ Cup Mile winner Expert Eye for Sir Michael Stoute and Prince Khalid Abdullah’s Juddmonte Farms in the Jersey Stakes 12 months ago went a long way towards repairing his reputation. He is this season’s champion-elect in the Sydney Metropolitan Jockeys’ Premiership.
His rides next week could include Prince Khalid’s Equilateral in the G1 King’s Stand Stakes on Tuesday.
McDonald and McEvoy are the third and fourth highest-ranked Australian jockeys in the world at present - behind Hong Kong-based Zac Purton (no change, stays #4) and Hugh Bowman (-1pt, stays #7).
TRC OWNER OF THE WEEK
After a lengthy period out of racing because of legal and financial troubles, American billionaire Peter Brant appears to be heading back to the upper levels of the sport.
His storied life - away from racing a papermill owner, magazine publisher, international polo player, art collector, friend of Andy Warhol; within it, a Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup-winning owner in the 1980s and a Kentucky Derby-winning breeder in the 90s - has entered a new chapter, certainly in racing, as the last two weeks have clearly illustrated.
Two Graded winners at Belmont Park last week - Homerique in the G2 New York Stakes and Significant Form in the G3 Intercontinental Stakes, both trained by Chad Brown - mean a Performer of the Week award for his ownership grouping, WHITE BIRCH FARM/PETER BRANT ET AL (+4pts, up to #16 from #21).
And this less than a week after their Jean-Claude Rouget-trained Sottsass took the Prix du Jockey Club at Chantilly.
This is surely just the start of a significant rise for Brant’s operation, which has spent liberally at the big sales over the past couple of years and whose Sistercharlie won last year’s Maker’s Mark Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf.
Click here for a list of all last week’s biggest TRC Global Rankings points gainers
Click here for a list of all the week’s Group and Graded winners